Fillip for Sports Direct as It Ends Takeover Talks at Blacks

The Evening Standard (London, England), December 16, 2011 | Go to article overview

Fillip for Sports Direct as It Ends Takeover Talks at Blacks


Byline: James Thompson

MIKE Ashley's Sports Direct has ended its pursuit of Blacks Leisure, cutting off one possible escape route for the beleaguered outdoor retailer to safeguard its future.

Sports Direct had confirmed on Monday its interest in a possible takeover of the operator of the Blacks and Millets chains but this morning said it had "decided not to proceed with an offer".

Investors in Sports Direct, which is the biggest shareholder in Blacks with 22.5%, toasted the move, sending the sportswear giant's shares up by 14p, or 7.4%, to 204p.

But the outdoor retail chains Mountain Warehouse, Go Outdoors and Cotswold Outdoor are among those still thought to be interested in buying part, or all, of Blacks. The outdoor group, which has debts of [pounds sterling]36 million, put itself up for sale last week by hiring advisers at KPMG after shareholders and potential new investors refused to back a cash call. In an accelerated process, the group has invited first-round bids before Christmas and is hoping to complete a transaction before the end of January. The company behind 98 Blacks outlets and 208 Millets stores has to refinance its debts before the start of its new financial year on 3 March.

If Blacks cannot complete a straight sale, then the retailer may be forced to implement an insolvency procedure. …

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