Sports Direct International Plc's shareholders approved the purchase of 32 shops from Mike Ashley at a recent shareholder's general meeting on 7 September 2011. The properties had been acquired by Mike Ashley as investments over a period of time and were let to Sportsdirect.com Retail Limited, who trade from most of the properties, at the time that Sports Direct International Plc floated. Sports Direct International Plc also trades from a large number of stores owned by third parties and 16 freehold properties owned within its group and its directors were in the view that there were advantages in securing other freehold interests including greater security and flexibility. The proposed sale was a related party transaction and a substantial property transaction involving a director and required shareholder's approval.
Mike Ashley is a long standing client of the firm and client partner, the client team had acted for him on the purchase and management issues of the majority of the properties involved in the transaction and when the leases to Sportsdirect.com Retail were put in place at the time of the float. This knowledge and the close working relationship meant that the team could facilitate a swift and efficient property disclosure process and ensure that the contract covered all necessary property issues. The portfolio included a small number of Scottish properties and our close links with Mike Ashley's Scottish advisors, Brodies, also helped the transaction run smoothly. There was an additional Scottish property which was dealt with separately by Brodies as it is being bought by way of a share purchase agreement. Now that shareholders' approval has been given the team are gearing up to complete the sale.