Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group sells stake in French Connection

A market filing on Monday revealed that Frasers had sold its stake last week, making it between £3m and £4m

Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group last week sold its 25 per cent stake in French Connection. Photograph: Nick Ansell/PA Wire

Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group last week sold its 25 per cent stake in French Connection. Photograph: Nick Ansell/PA Wire

 

Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group last week sold its 25 per cent stake in French Connection, jumping aboard a share price rally sparked by rumours of a potential takeover.

French Connection was on Friday forced to announce that it had been approached by two separate teams of investors after an unusual jump in shares the day before.

A market filing on Monday revealed that Frasers had grabbed the opportunity to get rid of its stake on Thursday, making it roughly between £3 million and £4 million, depending on the timing of the deal.

Frasers, formerly known as Sports Direct, acquired the majority of its stake in 2017, when the share price was about twice as high as when it sold its holding.

New investor

A corporate filing on Monday afternoon revealed the new French Connection shareholder to be Apinder Singh Ghura, a man not widely known in the City. Filings at Companies House indicate he has other business interests, at least one of them in apparel, and gives an address in Newcastle, which is home to Mr Ashley’s football team Newcastle United.

Frasers did not respond to several requests for comment, while French Connection declined to comment.

French Connection, whose “fcuk” label was a hit in the early 2000s, said last week that the talks remained at a “very early stage” and that it was not certain whether an offer would be made.

Stephen Marks, the company’s founder, has for almost three years been looking to sell his 42 per cent stake, a move that would trigger a mandatory offer for the rest of the shares under UK takeover rules.

The company was worth almost £500 million at its peak in 2004 before it fell out of favour with younger shoppers.

French Connection’s share price was on Monday evening down nearly 3 per cent at 25p, still more than double its level last Thursday.

- Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2021