Mike Ashley has sold Sports Direct shares worth more than £200m just days after the retailer’s investors rejected plans for a bonus scheme that would have seen the tycoon rake in £72m of free stock.
Ashley, who courted controversy this week by acquiring entrepreneur Sir Tom Hunter’s 11% stake in House of Fraser, has sold 25 million shares in Sports Direct to Goldman Sachs, equivalent to around 7% of his holding, which is still worth more than £3bn.
The bank said it had bought the shares from Ashley’s personal investment company Mash Holdings, and was looking to sell them on for between £8.50 and £8.70 a share, valuing them at up to £217.5m.
Ashley is now not allowed to sell or dispose of any further Sports Direct shares for 150 days from April 7.
Dave Singleton, non-executive director and chairman of the remuneration committee, said at the time the business had “narrowly missed the required support”.
Independent analyst Nick Bubb suggested “this is his way of getting his own back on the City, for blocking his £70m share bonus scheme last week”.
He added: “The latest share sale by Mike Ashley will certainly improve liquidity in Sports Direct, given the limited free float, but it will be interesting to see what sort of institutional appetite there is for the stock in the 850p to 870p range, given its recent spike in the share price over 900p.”
Bubb also highlighted the ongoing situation with HoF, which could see Ashley embroiled in a legal row.