Sports Direct has struck a complex share option agreement that allows it to take a 6.6% stake in Debenhams.

Sports Direct, controlled by Mike Ashley, has sold the 4.6% stake in Debenhams it snapped up last Friday but now has the option to take the larger stake.

The sports retailer said this morning that its “maximum exposure” is worth about £64m, but declined to reveal the exercise price agreed.

No term of the option deal was disclosed.

Sports Direct surprised the market on Monday when it revealed it had taken a stake in Debenhams, which emerged as one of the losers of the Christmas trading period.

Sports Direct said it wanted to explore options to work with Debenhams at an “operational level” when it announced the stake on Monday, which was welcomed by Debenhams.

Sources close to the situation said the move could lead to Sports Direct’s brands being sold in the department store.

It is understood that Mike Ashley still hopes to work with Debenhams despite not holding an actual stake in the retailer at present.