Sports Direct has just confirmed that it has increased its total holdings in Debenhams plc to 29.70% from 11%, for £90m.
Liam Rowley, Head of Strategic Investments at Sports Direct, commented, “We see huge value for both companies in a strategic partnership between Debenhams and Sports Direct.
“There are obvious synergies that can be achieved through the integration of our respective web operations. We also see opportunities to work together internationally.
“Importantly, there is scope for greater collaboration in the UK in order to roll out an elevated offering to consumers. We believe Sports Direct can complement Debenhams very well across the spectrum.”
Thirty-one of House of Fraser's 59 branches have already been earmarked for closure, including its flagship London Oxford Street outlet.
The news comes shortly after Debenhams announced this morning that PricewaterhouseCoopers and the three prospective buyers were in talks.
Alex Williamson, chief executive of House of Fraser, said this morning, 'We are hopeful that the current negotiations will shortly be concluded.
'An acquisition of the 169-year-old retail business will see House of Fraser regain stability, certainty and financial strength.
'In the two weeks since the Cenbest and C.Banner transaction ceased, the directors have brought forward a number of potential buyers and the group's financial advisors have run a comprehensive M&A process to identify and then develop other third party interest that has culminated in the senior secured creditors leading negotiations with parties at a critical pace.'
House of Fraser chairman, Frank Slevin said, 'This has been an extraordinarily challenging six months in which the business has delivered so many critical elements of the turnaround plan.
'Despite the very recent termination of the transaction between Cenbest and C.Banner, I am confident House of Fraser is close to securing its future.'