He's not about to pull a rabbit out of his hat and please the Geordie faithful - it's all about a deal to add to his own personal billions.
The maverick retail entrepreneur and the listed company he founded, Sports Direct International, are believed to have recently held talks with some of House of Fraser’s shareholders about buying out investors and creating a strategic partnership.
Although it is not clear which House of Fraser shareholders are planning to sell to Mr Ashley, one source said a deal could be announced in the next couple of weeks.
House of Fraser has a diverse shareholder base after it was bought in 2006 from public market investors for £351m by a consortium led by failed Icelandic investor Baugur.
House of Fraser shareholders include Icelandic bank Landsbanki, Don McMarthy, the department store’s chairman, and TBH Trading, which is thought to be Sir Tom Hunter’s investment vehicle.
Kevin Stanford, one of the founders of Karen Millen, and two wings of Lloyds Banking Group – Uberior Investments and Bank of Scotland – are also on the eclectic shareholder list.
If Mike Ashley and Sports Direct do buy a stake in House of Fraser, it would be the third deal aimed at moving his sports retail chain further upmarket.
Last year, Sports Direct acquired an 80pc shareholding in two of Sir Tom Hunter’s fashion retail chains, USC and Cruise, for £7m. And, over the summer, Mr Ashley’s company bought a 51pc stake in Flannels, which sells premium clothing brands including Dolce & Gabbana, Lanvin and Moncler.
Both Sports Direct and House of Fraser declined to comment. One insider suggested it would be difficult for Mr Ashley to do a deal as none of the House of Fraser shareholders can sell without approval from the others.
Source: Newcastle United Mad