The struggling department store chain has said it would consider a bid from Sports Direct but Mr Ashley is in a race against the clock. If Debenhams secures the funding lifeline it needs it may not need to consider the retail magnates approach, at least for now.
But what exactly does he own and how much is he worth?
The sports fashion retailer that he founded in 1982 as Mike Ashley Sports now turns over around £3.2bn in revenue and employs approximately 29,000. The company owns the Firetrap, Everlast, Slazenger, Muddyfox and Lonsdale brands among others. Ashley maintains a 61 per cent stake.
House of Fraser
Sports Direct snapped up House of Fraser last year when the department store chain went into administration. Ashley vowed to turn the struggling company into the “Harrods of the High Street”. He had already bought an 11 per cent stake from his friend Sir Tom Hunter back in 2014.
Ashley has a 30 per cent stake in Debenhams, close to the level at which he would be forced to make a takeover bid under City rules. He has come up against the management team on a number of occasions and sensationally ousted chief executive Sergio Bucher from the board in January.
Having tried to assume control of the department store chain without buying the shares it now looks like he may be ready to launch a full takeover attempt.
Ashley bought Sir John Hall’s 41.6 per cent stake in Newcastle United for £55m in May 2007 and acquired the whole club two months later.
Ashley’s approach of sitting in the stands wearing a Newcastle shirt rather than in the director’s box initially helped make him popular with fans, as did appearances at local pubs on match day.
He appeared on live television downing a pint of beer with fans in the away stand during Newcastle’s August 2008 game against Arsenal in London, flouting a Premier League ban on consuming alcohol pitchside.
But the relationship with fans has since soured and many believe he has failed to invest sufficiently, to the detriment of the club.
UK retailer Evans Cycles was sold to Sports Direct as part of a pre-pack administration. Ashley’s purchase saved the brand, but half of its 62 UK stores will close, putting hundreds out of work.
Ashley agreed to buy Sofa.com for “a nominal sum” in February, ending a battle with ScS Group for the online furniture retailer.
HMV, Patisserie Valerie
The Sports Direct owner seems to be linked to just about every high street store that has struggled over the past year. He has held talks with HMV’s administrators and was rumoured to be sniffing around posh cake chain Patisserie Valerie. The cake shop was ultimately sold to members of its management team, backed by Irish private equity firm Causeway Capital.
What is Mike Ashley’s net worth?
Putting an exact figure on the value of his combined holdings is tricky but Forbes has it at $3bn (£2.3bn).
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