Mike Ashley left a meeting with former BHS owner Sir Philip Green and its administrators Duff & Phelps in April 2015 believing he had secured a deal to buy the stricken chain, according to written evidence the Sports Direct boss has submitted to the business, innovation and skills (BIS) committee.
The written evidence was referred to on June 15 at the committee’s hearing into the collapse of BHS and has now been published in full.
It confirms that Ashley and Green both attended a meeting on April 27 2015 and discussed a rescue package for the retailer.
In the letter, dated June 13, Ashley said his original proposal to buy BHS “would have potentially saved the vast majority of the jobs and stores at BHS” and he believed “this should have been taken into account when making a decision”.
“Our understanding when we left the meeting was that we had an agreed deal, which was to be executed on May 13 2016,” he wrote.
“Following the meeting an SPA (sale and purchase agreement) was sent out by [law firm] DLA on behalf of Duff & Phelps, which was duly returned within 48 hours. However, as you know, the deal did not happen.”
Ashley’s letter claimed the deal could not proceed due to time pressures to perform due diligence on pensions and other aspects of the business, contradicting Green’s claim that it was down to a lack of funds available to Sports Direct.