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Sports Direct sells out of US firm Finish Line Inc days after JD Sports completed its acquisition

In addition, Sports Direct also revealed that its strategic interest in Nasdaq-listed brand license firm Iconix Brand Group Inc was 5.66mln shares, reflecting an 8.6% interest

Sports Direct
Sports Direct unveiled a series of strategic investments in the US in April

Sports Direct International PLC (LON:SPD) has sold its 19.3% holding in US sports shoes retail firm Finish Line Inc days after rival JD Sports Fashion PLC (LON:JD.) completed its US$558mln acquisition of the business on Monday.

In an extremely brief statement, Mike Ashley’s sportswear retailer just said it has fully disposed of its interest in Finish Line, which was revealed in April as an 8% directly-owned stake with the rest held through contracts for difference (CFDs) with third parties.

READ: Sports Direct discloses stake in Finish Line after JD Sports agrees to buy US retailer

In addition, Sports Direct also revealed today that its strategic interest in Nasdaq-listed brand license firm Iconix Brand Group Inc was 5.66mln shares, reflecting an 8.6% interest, down from an 8.9% holding, probably reflecting some share issue dilution.

The FTSE 250-listed company also disclosed - with its strategic US investments announcement in April - that the stake in Iconix is held through CFDs with third parties.

Iconix licences and markets a portfolio of consumer brands such as Artful Dodger, Candie's, Bongo, Joe Boxer, Rampage, London Fog, Mossimo and Cannon.

Sports Direct’s US investment moves come with UK retailers under pressure from weak consumer confidence and intense online competition.

On Tuesday, department stores group Debenhams PLC (LON:DEB) and trendy footwear retailer Footasylum PLC (LON:FOOT) issued profit warnings, underlining the difficulties facing the UK high street.

READ: Debenhams issues another profit warning but expects improvement next year

Sports Direct owns 29.7% of Debenhams as well as concessions in stores of the high street chain.

In early afternoon trading, Sports Direct shares were up 0.9% at 404.9p, while JD Sports shares were 2.8% higher at 417.70p.

Debenhams, Footasylum lower again

But, after big falls yesterday, Debenhams shares were down another 2.9% today at 17p, and Footasylum dropped another 8.1% to 73.5p.

Footasylum’s chief executive Clare Nesbitt is the daughter of JD Sports founder David Makin. Makin and partner John Wardle pocketed around £45mln after they sold out of JD Sports – which still bears their first initials – back in 2005.

READ: Footasylum stumbles as higher investment and gloomy trading conditions to hit this year’s results

Makin used his chunk of the proceeds almost immediately to set up Footasylum and was joined three years later by his former business partner.

Footasylum floated on AIM in November 2017 at a price of 164p per share, giving it an initial market capitalisation of £65.4mln.

 -- Recasts lead; adds share prices --

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