Mike Ashley pursues legal action over Debenhams' demise
Former Frasers Group head (and still its majority owner) Mike Ashley will finally get his day in court over the bitter collapse of UK department store giant Debenhams.
The billionaire Sports Direct founder’s long-running campaign to investigate the full details of Debenhams' downfall will be aired in court next May, according to The Mail on Sunday.
The newspaper said legal papers filed by lawyers for Frasers Group accuse administrators at FRP Advisory of a “criminal offence” in their dealings with him. His legal team allege FRP Advisory's Geoff Rowley and Alastair Massey “abused” their powers by “stifling investigation into the affairs” of Debenhams.
It comes after Ashley’s £180 million 30% stake in the retailer became worthless when the chain went bankrupt two years ago, seeing the closure of 124 stores and the loss of thousands of jobs.
Ashley had repeatedly tried to take control of the retailer before and after its failure, including the offer of a £150 million loan to bail the business out. Rights to the Debenhams brand and its website were sold to online retailer Boohoo in 2021.
At the heart of the case is a contested settlement between Ashley and the administrators over the former’s purchase of fixtures and fittings in empty Debenhams stores.
Part of the agreement was that the businessman could not sue those involved in the company's collapse, which he says was “illegal and unenforceable”. He wants the agreement set aside.
Defendants also include US-based hedge fund Silver Point Capital which acquired Debenhams in 2019. Frasers and the defendants have yet to comment.
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