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JD Sports enters race for Debenhams

JD Sports has reportedly entered the race to acquire embattled department store Debenhams, and has been granted access to Debenhams’ finances in a secure data room.

According to The Telegraph, JD Sports has emerged as a potential contender after being given access to Debenhams’ finances within the last fortnight.   

One source close to its finances cited by the paper said the Debenhams has managed to retain “some valuable assets” including its online business and a number of its concessions. 

It is thought that if a deal can not be agreed specialist restructuring firm Hilco will be appointed to sell off stock and wind down the business. 

Previously, it was reported that Mike Ashley, the owner of JD Sports’ rival Sports Direct, claimed to have been “frozen out” of a bid for Debenhams and that he was not given sufficient data on the company.

The news also comes after The Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) overturned the Competition and Market Authority’s (CMA) decision to block JD Sports’ acquisition of Footasylum.

In its ruling, the CAT said the CMA “acted irrationally” in its decision-making and failed to provide the essential evidence needed to block the takeover.

Following this result, JD Sports Fashion has said the case will now be remitted to the CMA for full consideration and the authority’s previous order, which would have coerced the business into divesting Footasylum, will now be cancelled.

Peter Cowgill, executive chairman of JD Sports Fashion, said: “We have always maintained that this merger would provide significant long-term benefits to customers, colleagues and brand partners, and so we are very pleased with the Competition Appeal Tribunal’s judgment today.

“The entire case will now go back to the CMA for reconsideration and we look forward to presenting further evidence which demonstrates the true extent to which the competitive landscape has evolved, in particular as a result of the unprecedented challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.”

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