Mike Ashley has slammed Debenhams advisers after bondholders backed the embattled retailer’s £200m refinancing plans.
The department store chain said its bondholders had agreed to change the terms of some of their bonds, paving the way for it to secure new loans of up to £200m from existing lenders.
Debenhams said “a majority” of holders of notes due in 2021 have given the green light to the amendments.
Mike Ashley has hit back at beleaguered department store chain winning support from its bondholders.
“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 advisors would be put in prison,” he declared.
Debenhams show of support from its bondholders comes as the retailer seeks to secure its future and fend off the overtures of Ashley’s Sports Direct group.
This week, Sports Direct said it was considering a 5p per share cash offer for Debenhams, which would value the business at £61.4m.
However, the offer would be conditional on Ashley being installed as its new chief executive.
Sports Direct already owns just under 30% of Debenhams, but faces the prospect of having that equity wiped out under potential restructuring plans.
Debenhams said last week that it had secured a £200m funding lifeline to “provide liquidity headroom” and “deliver stability for its customers, staff, suppliers and pensionholders”.
But it warned that, although the cash injection would give it the “ability to pursue restructuring options to secure the future of the business”, “certain of these options” would “result in no equity value for the company’s current shareholders”.
Sports Direct is attempting to scupper that strategy, and even offered Debenhams an interest-free loan of £150m earlier this month.
Its latest bid to derail Debenhams’ refinancing plan came on Wednesday morning, when it said it was mulling the potential takeover offer.
However, Sports Direct admitted there was “no certainty that an offer will be made for Debenhams”.
Sports Direct’s deputy chief financial officer Chris Wootton said other shareholders risked having the company stolen from them if they were not given a chance to consider the 5p per share bid.
“Debenhams shareholders, both major and minority, are sick and tired of being ignored, cast aside and trampled underfoot by the lenders of Debenhams who, through the incompetence or, worse, collusion of the board, are allowing these critical stakeholders in the business to be wiped out,” Wootton said.
“This is the shareholders’ chance to fight back. We reiterate our prior comments that we will leave no stone unturned in pursuing those responsible for this long-planned theft.”