Sports Direct is weighing up an offer for Debenhams that would value the department store group at £61.4m.
Sports Direct also said it would assist embattled Debenhams “in addressing its immediate funding requirements”.
However, it also insisted that for a deal to proceed, Sports Direct tycoon Mike Ashley should immediately be made chief executive and that Debenhams should end its refinancing process launched last week.
Sports Direct’s offer would also be dependent upon Debenhams agreeing not to enter into any third-party funding arrangements “granting any new security over any of its assets or entering into any administration, CVA or other insolvency process”.
Sports Direct said: “The possible offer would offer fair and full value for Debenhams.
“[Sports Direct] does not believe that Debenhams has the same value if it is (in effect) handed over to Debenhams’ existing lender group.
“As such, Sports Direct would expect the possible offer to be attractive to Debenhams shareholders and other stakeholders as an alternative to Debenhams’ current restructuring and refinancing process.”
The proposal from Sports Direct is the latest twist in a battle to shape Debenhams’ future that has been raging for months.
Sports Direct is Debenhams’ biggest shareholder and owns rival House of Fraser, which Ashley has pledged to turn into the ‘Harrods of the high street’.
Sports Direct and Ashley have made several attempts to take control of Debenhams, including the offer of loans and the staging of a boardroom coup.
Debenhams has struggled to adapt during tough trading conditions, and aims to refinance and restructure. That may result in existing shareholders’ equity being wiped out.