One of JJB Sports’ major shareholders Harris Associates has disposed of a fifth of its holdings in the past month as time runs out for the retailer.
Harris, JJB’s second largest shareholder, held over 20% of the retailer’s shares last month, but has slashed this to 15.93%
Just four months ago Harris, a long time investor in JJB that has supported the retailer through multiple cash calls and two CVAs, held a 30% stake in the retailer.
An analyst told Retail Week: “Why would you sell your shareholdings when the share price is so low? Maybe they want to get some value now rather than them being worthless if JJB is to collapse. It sounds like they’re looking at administration as a realistic possibility.”
Harris’ disposal comes as fellow investor US retailer Dicks Sporting Goods earlier this month wrote off the £20m investment it made in the retailer in April. Dicks has also said that it has no further funding obligation to JJB. It was expected to invest another £20m in the retailer next year.
However Charles Stanley Securities retail analyst Peter Smedley said he would not write off Harris or Dicks’ involvement in JJB. He said: “Harris might still support it if Dicks hangs in there. I think there are many twists and turns to come. Both could still come into the fold.”
Time is thought to be running out for the retailer which put out yet another cash call last month as debt levels have risen following dire trading. It is understood that JJB management has until September 5 to submit a restructuring plan.
The retailer’s four biggest shareholders Harris, Invesco, Crystal Amber and the Gates Foundation are all believed to be involved in negotiations about its turnaround plans.
JJB has drafted in restructuring specialist Bob Corliss, who runs a US based advisory firm CorlissMoore & Associates, as its chairman. He starts on Saturday. Corliss has been involved in two bankruptcy situations in the past five years.
Invesco, JJB’s biggest shareholder, is understood to be vying to buy the retailer’s outstanding debt from main lender Lloyds Banking group so it can lead a restructure which many believe will include a pre-pack administration.
Harris and JJB declined to comment.