Frasers Group Plc, the retail empire majority owned by tycoon Mike Ashley, has raised its stake in struggling online fashion hub Asos Plc.
Already Asos’s third-largest shareholder, Frasers raised its holding to 8.8% from 7.4%, according to a June 6 filing. The stake has grown from around 5% in October.
Ashley founded Sports Direct four decades ago and built it into Frasers. The billionaire has a track record of taking stakes in failing retailers and growing positions in rivals.
Frasers has purchased stakes in Hugo Boss AG and luxury handbag maker Mulberry as well as buying Savile Row tailor Gieves & Hawkes, video game retailer Game Digital, apparel brand Jack Wills and online brand Missguided.
Asos changing trajectory
Asos has been overhauling its business in a bid to return to profit, reducing inventory and cutting back on excessive discounting.
Last month, it raised £75 million ($93 million) in equity from its two largest shareholders, Danish fashion group Bestseller and U.S. hedge fund Camelot Capital Partners, to support its turnaround plan. The company also refinanced its bank debt with borrowing facilities from specialist lender Bantry Bay Capital, backed by U.S. activist Elliott Investment Management.
Asos received a takeover approach from Turkish online retailer Trendyol in December at a price that would have valued the company’s shares at between £10 and £12 each, according to the Sunday Times. Talks between the companies are no longer active, the newspaper reported.
Asos was for years a stock-market darling amid rising sales and profits. But it has fallen 89% in the past three years and is now one of the United Kingdom’s most-shorted stocks.
ASOS Plc Holdings ranks No. 19 in the 2023 Europe Database. Digital Commerce 360’s database ranks the largest European online retailers by their web sales.
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