FD nabs Sports Direct brief

Sports Direct has completed a massive U-turn and abandoned plans to hire Finsbury.

Instead, it has turned to FD, which is representing founder Mike Ashley on his intended takeover of Newcastle United.

As revealed here on PRWeek.com (30 May), FD was brought on board after Sports Direct chairman David Richardson quit last Thursday.

The remarkable turn-around – Finsbury had seemed odds-on to bag the brief after seeing off competition from Citigate and Bell Pottinger Corporate & Financial – completes a torrid time for the recently listed company.

In April, Tulchan was sacked after guiding Sports Direct successfully through a billion-pound floatation. The firm subsequently received negative press after its share price slipped and analysts meetings were cancelled. Vaguely-worded, occasionally terse, trading statements with no contact information did little to ease shareholder unease.

The hire of FD, which has successfully managed Ashley’s football interests, has been widely seen as a sign that the company wants to shake-up its act.

FD was called-upon by ­famously media-shy Ashley last month as he turned his attention to Newcastle United, using the money he had made from the Sports Direct flotation (PRWeek, 1 June).

FD had to counter suggestions that Ashley was neither a Newcastle supporter nor a football fan.

Richardson will be replaced by Simon Bentley, former chairman and chief executive of Blacks Leisure, who comes in as interim chairman. His appointment coincides with the arrival of Merrill Lynch International and Credit Suisse as joint brokers.

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