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Mike Ashley to step down from Frasers board

Tom Shearsmith
20 September 2022

Billionaire retail magnate Mike Ashley is to step down as a director of Frasers Group next month, but has agreed to lend £100 million to the business.

Frasers Group said Ashley, who founded the Sports Direct business 40 years ago, will leave the board after the group’s annual shareholder meeting on 19 October, although he will continue to act as an adviser to the board and senior management.

The former Newcastle United owner had already handed over the reins to new chief executive Michael Murray in May, when he stepped back into an executive director role.

Murray, the founder’s son-in-law, was promoted to the position after leading Frasers’ “elevation strategy” as the firm has sought to grow its premium division. Ashley has remained closely involved in the firm’s management and is still the group’s controlling shareholder with a stake of nearly 70%.

He said he remained “100% committed” to backing the group and will stump up £100 million in financing to show his “continuing strong support”, with the cash lent on the same commercial terms as its existing borrowing facilities.

In a statement, Mike Ashley said: “It is clear that the group has the right leadership and strategy in place and I feel very confident passing the baton to Michael and his team. Although I am stepping down from the board, I remain 100% committed to supporting Frasers and Michael’s plans and ambitions, and I look forward to helping the team as and when they require me.

“My commitment and support as a Frasers’ shareholder is as strong as ever.”

Frasers Group CEO Michael Murray added: “Mike has built an incredible business over the past 40 years and, on behalf of the board and the group, I want to thank him for all he has done. With our new strategy and leadership team, we are driving this business forward at pace and we are all excited for the future.”

Last week, Frasers Group announced it will rejoin the FTSE 100, following its exit from the index six years ago.

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