Ashley Spends 7.7 million - With No Fear!
Well, we wait for these two "massive signings" that Alan Pardew has promised us. And we can tell you Mike Ashley HAS splashed the cash ... but it is on 'No Fear'. For those who can hold their nerve – such as Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley – the downturn in spending presents an opportunity. But in the telltale Ashley manner, the 48-year-old self-made billionaire has made his assault in controversial form. Sports Direct has won a six-month battle in America's bankruptcy courts to seize control of US fashion and extreme sports brand No Fear. It follows an agreement earlier in the year to take majority stakes in clothing chains Cruise and USC and marks Sports Direct's latest push into a market that has as much to do with fashion as sports. No Fear hit trouble at the beginning of this year and by February had invoked bankruptcy protection laws while a buyer was sought. Sports Direct had already signed a joint venture agreement in 2005 to develop the brand outside the US and Canada. Sports Direct paid $12.5 million (£7.7 million) for a 50 per cent stake in British-based No Fear International and has since registered 300 trademarks around the world. Its UK range includes at least 470 lines and is proving lucrative. It includes sports gear, from roller blades and wetsuits to hoodies and fashion T-shirts. When the brand hit the buffers, Sports Direct's lawyers moved in and successfully held on to the original joint venture stake ... and then proceeded to negotiate an $11.1 million payment that effectively handed Sports Direct full ownership of the intellectual rights of the brand worldwide. The sheer scale of the company Ashley created and its continued growth make it well placed to pick up more assets if the downturn bites still harder.
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