Billionaire retail tycoon Mike Ashley is reportedly out of the running to buy up beleaguered Debenhams after being priced out of a deal.
According to The Times , Mr Ashley failed to match the £300million the department store chain’s advisers were asking for.
Mr Ashley is currently the owner of Frasers Group, which includes Sports Direct, Flannels, Evans Cycles and House of Fraser among others.
The retail mogul – estimated to be worth around £2.14billion – has taken full advantage of the retail crisis by snapping up struggling firms and adding them to his ever-growing list of businesses.
Debenhams, which went into administration for the second time earlier this year, now has limited options regarding its future.
The 232-year-old chain could be liquidated, The Times reported, or broken up and parts sold to different buyers – or it could be sold back to the group of hedge funds that own its debts.
Chris Wootton, Frasers Group’s chief financial officer, has reportedly written to Darren Jones, chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy committee, claiming the sale price was “impossible” for all but insiders to reach.
Mr Wootton reportedly wrote that Debenhams would be bought up by its present owners or restructuring firm Hilco, which is on standby as a liquidator if no buyer can be found.
But Debenhams’ lawyers said Mr Ashley’s Frasers Group did not make an offer by the deadline of last week. This meant, they said, that along with a “gulf in price” there was “no prospect of concluding a transaction”.
But Mr Ashley claims the data provided to his company was “woefully inadequate” and it was “almost unbelievable” his firm was expected to make a bid with the information, reports the Times.
The news comes as Mr Ashley more than doubles his stake in luxury brand Mulberry.
In February this year, Mr Ashley’s company bought a 12.5 per cent stake in the fashion business – and that now stands at 29.7 per cent.