Confirming a report that it had reduced its stake in JD Sports Fashion, while retaining its position as its majority shareholder, the Pentland Group says the sale of the shares will enable to further a strategy of “growing our portfolio of sports, outdoor and fashion brands through organic investment and acquisitions.”
Through its wholly-owned Pentland Brands unit, the group owns brands like Berghaus, Ellesse and Speedo, among others. Last year, it took over a Scottish brand of cycling clothing, Endura, that is worn by mountain bikers and triathlon runners. It previously made an investment in Tracksmith, an American brand of performance running apparel.
Pentland said it has sold 23,996,201 shares in JD, the parent company of JD Sports, The Finish Line and various outdoor retailing operations, including Blacks, Millets and Go Outdoors. The shares were sold to institutional investors in two steps at a price of 740 pence a share, or a total of £177.6 million (€207.8 million). Goldman Sachs acted as sole bookrunner.
JD’s share price dipped slightly after the initial rumors about Pentland’s divestiture, but then they picked up strongly and are now trading at near-record levels of over 800 pence per share, giving the company a market capitalization of £7.94 billion (€9.29 million), nearly double the level at the beginning of this year.
With this transaction, Pentland’s share in JD has declined from 57.47 percent to 55.0 percent. Pentland first invested in JD in 2005, acquiring a 45 percent stake to fend off a hostile takeover by Sports Direct.
JD plans to publish an interim Christmas trading statement on Jan. 10.