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Does tycoon have a new plan for Rangers?

Ashley poised to make £117m selling stake in Sports Direct

MIke AshleyRetail billionaire Mike Ashley may be preparing to tighten his grip on Rangers after selling some of his shares in Sports Direct.

Mr Ashley is reducing his holding in the clothing chain in a deal likely to make him £117 million.

The owner of Newcastle United Football Club and minority shareholder in Rangers is selling 15.4 million shares via Goldman Sachs.

The deal may release funds for him to loan money to Rangers without the need to take Ibrox as security as he plans to do through the Sports Direct channel.

He is still unable to increase his direct holding in the club beyond 10% because of Scottish FA rules governing ownership of a Scottish club by those owning clubs in England. However, one further possibility is that the disposal of shares in Sports Direct may precede a sale of Newcastle, thereby allowing him to acquire Rangers.

His grip on Sports Direct, while slightly reduced, is not weakened. Even after the sale he will remain the majority shareholder in the company he founded in 1982. His stake will fall from 57.7% to 55%, worth around £2.5 billion.

The shares will be sold to institutional investors via an accelerated bookbuild, starting immediately, Goldman said in a statement.

Shares in FTSE 100-listed company fell 10% last April when Mr Ashley cut his stake by 4%, raising more than £200m.

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