Market Report: Mike Ashley's £125m windfall after Sports Direct unveils share buyback

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What a difference a week makes. This time last week, Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley was braced for a critical report from MPs over “workhouse”-style practices. But today his company’s shares rocketed nearly 15%, adding £125 million to the value of his 55% stake in the business.

The turnaround was thanks to a massive share buyback, which will see the company recoup a 5% stake, or almost 30 million shares, at a cost of  £89.8 million. The shares will be held in treasury.

Management made the call after a more-than-30% slump in Sports Direct shares following the European Union referendum, as it emerged the chain was not hedged against currency movements.

Today’s announcement gave the sporting goods seller its best day on the stock market for nearly seven years, with shares up 37.7p at 295.2p and topping the FTSE 250.

There was also bitter-sweet news for Ashley in the form of an update from rival JD Sports

After another strong performance, the exclusive seller of Wales and Northern Ireland’s Euro 2016 kits said its pre-tax profit would now be at the upper end of expectations of between £170 million and £190 million. It has successfully tapped into the trend for ath-leisure clothing.

Though another sign that JD was outdoing Ashley’s firm, the Newcastle United owner could find some comfort in the fact that Sports Direct retains a stake of around 3% in JD and would profit from the shares’ 24p rise to 1260.3p. 

The FTSE 100 was little moved, down 6.29 points at 6744.14, as traders dealt with a barrage of corporate news.

Among those in positive territory was defence giant BAE Systems, which shrugged off Brexit and heralded a  10-year partnership worth a predicted £2.1 billion with the Ministry of Defence to support the UK’s fleet of Typhoon fighter jets. It was 5.5p higher at 545p.


Shopping centres landlord intu also defied the Brexit gloom and revealed it has signed 27 lettings with retailers including Cath Kidston since polling day. The shares rose 8.8p to 303.3p.

At the other end of the leaderboard was catering giant Compass, down 23p to 1443p, as it said margins were under pressure due to restructuring at its offshore and remote business and in emerging markets.

On the FTSE 250, National Express’s assurance it was “well placed” to withstand any Brexit impact with two thirds of its earnings made outside the UK fell flat. The transport group fell 1.5p to 337.5p.

Aim-listed payment services firm FairFX’s deal to be Premier League champions Leicester City’s foreign exchange provider was better received and it rose 0.8p to 29.8p.

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July 28, 2016 |
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