Sports Direct has converted its stake in Debenhams into a put option, a financial instrument that is typically used by investors who expect a stock price to fall.
Yesterday the business got rid of its 4.6% stake, acquired last Friday, instead buying a put option on a larger 6.6% of the department store group.
The move is usually regarded as a bearish stance on a stock, as put options act as a form of insurance against further stock falls.
However, in a statement to the stock market, the Mike Ashley-owned company said: “As announced previously, Sports Direct wishes to explore options at an operational level to work together with Debenhams and is looking forward to meeting with Debenhams’ senior management team in the near future.
“Sports Direct reiterates its intention to be a supportive stakeholder and create value in the interests of both Sports Direct’s and Debenhams’ shareholders.”
Independent analyst Nick Bubb added: “Normally this would be a bearish sign, but presumably he thinks this will give him more leverage in his negotiations with the beleaguered business.”