Mike Ashley has lashed out at advisers to Debenhams after the cash-strapped chain secured approval for a £200m refinancing, paving the way for his 30% holding to be wiped out.
The retail tycoon, who controls Sports Direct and House of Fraser, had this week raised the prospect of a takeover bid for the shares he does not already own – conditional on talks with bondholders being stopped.
He also demanded to get the chief executive’s job.
But the Debenhams board, which has snubbed all his attempts to gain control, signalled on Thursday it had enough support to press ahead with its own refinancing plans.
That will likely lead to a so-called pre-pack administration, which does not need shareholder approval, or a debt-for-equity swap that would see lenders take control.
Mr Ashley said in response: “Now the results of the vote are known and we have also been subsequently advised that
the supportive HSBC are no longer part of Debenhams’ revolving credit facility, I think that, if there were any justice in the world, the majority of the advisers would be put in prison.”
The restructuring planned by Debenhams – whatever form it takes – would see the value of all current shareholdings erased.
It is already planning a series of store closures and job losses in response to tough trading.
That has been a consequence of its failure to get to grips with online shopping.
More recently it has not been immune to the pressure on the wider high street from a toxic cocktail of weak consumer confidence and rising costs from things like rents, wages and business rates.