Mike Ashley tightens grip on High Street with £52m grab for Game

Retail tycoon Mike Ashley tightens his grip on the High Street with £52m grab for Game Digital

  • Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct has made a mandatory bid of 30p a share for Game 
  • The offer values the struggling gaming chain at £51.9million 
  • Sports Direct is already the largest shareholder in Game Digital 

Deal hungry retail tycoon Mike Ashley looked to extend his grip on the High Street today as his Sports Direct tabled a bid for struggling chain Game Digital. 

Sports Direct, which is already the biggest shareholder in Game, offered 30p a share for the retail chain, valuing it at £51.9million. 

The mandatory bid was triggered after Sports Direct upped its stake to 38.5 per cent. It sent Game’s shares soaring more than 22 per cent to nearly 29p. 

Another level: Sports Direct has tabled an offer for Game Digital, sending its shares up 22%

Ashley’s cut price tracksuit and trainers business has been an investor in Game since 2017.  The firm also holds a 50 per cent stake in Game’s newest venture – gaming arenas. 

Alongside e-sports and events, Game hopes that the Belong-branded arenas where people ‘pay to play’ will help it reverse its fortunes in a challenging retail market.  

But Sports Direct said today that it does not think Game is strong enough to weather the storm alone. 

It also warned that there may be some store closures and job losses if the takeover succeeds amid plans to review the chain’s shops and potentially merge some sites with others in the wider group.  

It added that Belong gaming arenas could be installed in House of Fraser or Sports Direct stores.   

In a statement, Sports Direct said: ‘The retail and gaming sectors are fast moving and currently subject to challenging conditions.

‘Sports Direct does not believe that, as a standalone business, Game is able to weather the pressures that it is facing.

‘Sports Direct believes that the offer, in providing Game with the wider benefit of Sports Direct’s operating and other experience and increased support, will secure Game’s future and allow it to navigate these pressures.’  

High Street tycoon: Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley (above) holds stakes in numerous High Street chains

High Street tycoon: Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley (above) holds stakes in numerous High Street chains

The ‘final’ 30p-a-share bid represents a 27 per cent premium to Game’s closing price on Tuesday of 23.55p.     

Last year, Sports Direct picked up House of Fraser out of administration and also bought cycling chain Evans. 

Ashley also became embroiled in a long battle over struggling department store chain Debenhams, but was ultimately forced to admit defeat and saw his £150million stake wiped out as the firm fell into the hands of its lenders. 

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