Mar 10, 2019

Debenhams considers larger refinancing to fend off Ashley

Debenhams may push up the size of its upcoming refinancing to fend off attempts by major shareholder Sports Direct to seize control of the struggling group, according to people briefed on the company's thinking. That was before Sports Direct, which is controlled by billionaire Mike Ashley and is a 29 per cent shareholder in Debenhams, last week demanded an extraordinary meeting of shareholders to dismiss all but one of the company's six directors and install Mr Ashley as chief executive. One person close to Debenhams said the management and creditors were looking at ways to make the refinancing "As watertight as possible", which may include targeting a larger amount. The company is now effectively working against the timescale imposed by the EGM process, under which Debenhams must respond to the Sports Direct request within 21 days and hold the meeting within 28 days of that response. Debenhams last week said that its previous financial guidance was "No longer valid" and that it expected higher interest costs and disruption to trading from the refinancing.

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