Mike Ashley still in the running for 80 BHS stores

London - Mike Ashley, founder of Sports Direct, still has his sights set on taking over part of BHS store portfolio, even as administrators start to wind down the collapsed department store group after failing to find a suitable buyer.

The billionaire contacted administrators on Friday evening, writing in a letter that Sports Direct was "fully committed" to reaching a deal with Duffy & Phelps to save the BHS brand as well as a number of jobs, according to the Mirror. Ashley is said to be prepared to take over as many as 80 BHS stores as well as the rights to the brand's name. The founder of Sports Direct is expected to make a formal bid for the BHS chain as early as Monday.

News of Ashley's final attempt to take over part of BHS comes after the billionaire's 11th hour rescue bid made to administrators to take over the entire BHS brand and portfolio. However Duff & Phelps were unable to secure a deal and announced BHS impending liquidation on June 2.

However, last week saw Dominic Chappell, head of the consortium Retail Acquisitions which acquired BHS for 1 pound from Sir Philip Green Arcadia Group last year, state that the Topshop entrepreneur worked against any potential sale to Ashley.

During the joint inquiry hosted by the Work and Pensions and Business, Innovation and Skills committees, Chappell revealed Sir Green blocked Ashley's last minute bid to save BHS from liquidation. Over the past few weeks, numerous calls have been made to strip Sir Green of his knighthood for his involvement in the collapse of BHS.

The Topshop tycoon is set to appear before the two committees this week to give to pull out after the parliamentary committee chair and MP Frank Field expected Sir Green pay hundreds of millions of pounds into BHS pension fund. "I am not prepared to participate in a process which has not even the pretence of fairness and objectivity and which has as its primary objective the destruction of my reputation," wrote Sir Green in a letter to Field according to the Financial Times, calling for him to resign "immediately from this inquiry."

Ashley is also set to give written evidence to the joint select committee on his bids to save BHS.

 

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