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US News Mike Ashley fails in court bid to trigger inquiry into Debenhams

01:56  29 may  2020
01:56  29 may  2020 Source:   news.sky.com

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Businessman and Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley has failed in a bid to trigger an investigation into the financial affairs of struggling department store chain Debenhams . Lawyers representing Mr Ashley 's Frasers Group, which owns nearly a third of Debenhams ' shares

Businessman and Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley has failed in a bid to trigger an investigation into the financial affairs of struggling department store chain Debenhams . The retailer had also gone into administration in April 2019. Judge Mullen said Frasers Group had issued a winding up petition.

Mike Ashley wearing a suit and tie: Mike Ashley's Frasers Group owns nearly a third of Debenhams' shares © Reuters Mike Ashley's Frasers Group owns nearly a third of Debenhams' shares

Businessman and Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley has failed in a bid to trigger an investigation into the financial affairs of struggling department store chain Debenhams.

Lawyers representing Mr Ashley's Frasers Group, which owns nearly a third of Debenhams' shares, asked a judge to appoint a "provisional liquidator" to begin inquiries.

But Judge Mark Mullen, who considered the application at a remote hearing in the specialist Insolvency and Companies Court on Wednesday, refused.

The judge said neither other Debenhams' shareholders nor creditors were aware of the application.

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But Mr Hancock said that if the voluntary system of compliance fails , the government can mandate it. These tougher measures could result in spot checks and fines - though the extent of police powers is not yet clear. Mike Ashley fails in court bid to trigger inquiry into Debenhams .

Founder of Sports Direct had ploughed at least £150m into department store group.

He indicated that he would reconsider the issue at another hearing in the near future, but said he wanted the application to be "known about".

a person standing in front of a brick building: Debenhams is in administration for the second time in about 12 months © PA Debenhams is in administration for the second time in about 12 months

Debenhams has been in administration since April, for the second time in about 12 months.

Judge Mullen said Frasers Group had issued a winding up petition.

No decision has been made about whether that winding up petition should be granted.

The judge said the appointment of any "provisional liquidator" was not urgent as there was no evidence to suggest that Debenhams' assets or documents needed to be secured because they were in any danger.

A barrister representing Frasers Group had argued that a provisional liquidator should be appointed.

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Mike Ashley moved a step closer to taking over Debenhams when the struggling department store chain The debt-plagued company announced that it has filed a motion for bankruptcy court approval to liquidate its US Created with Sketch. Debenhams says it will consider Mike Ashley takeover bid .

Mike Ashley has stepped up his campaign for an investigation into the collapse of Debenhams , claiming MPs are more interested in their own PR than The committee strongly criticised Thomas Cook’s management in parliament last week for failing to accept responsibility for any wrongdoing.

Barry Isaacs QC told the judge how Debenhams had last year borrowed around £40m - but Frasers Group loan offers had been rebuffed.

Mike Ashley wearing a white shirt and smiling at the camera: Mr Ashley was recently forced to apologise over his company's actions during the coronavirus outbreak © PA Mr Ashley was recently forced to apologise over his company's actions during the coronavirus outbreak

The judge said Frasers Group had identified those "bridging facilities" as "suspicious".

Frasers Group was known as Sports Direct International and bosses announced a re-brand late in 2019.

In late March, Mr Ashley found himself apologising for a series of mistakes in his company's handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

He was roundly criticised by MPs for emails to the government, as the country was placed on lockdown, in which the company claimed Sports Direct was essential for keeping the nation active.

It later moved to defend its stance in further correspondence before backing down and closing stores.

Mr Ashley published an open letter expressing regrets, but also offered use of the company's truck fleet to the NHS for the delivery of supplies to fight COVID-19.

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Department store expected to fall into hands of lenders, wiping out shareholders.

Mike Ashley has offered to underwrite a £150m shareholder rescue fundraising for Debenhams if the ailing department store chain agrees to make him Debenhams set Ashley a deadline of Monday night to make a bid for the company, put in new funds or see lenders take control of the department

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