Dec 12, 2019
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JD Sports shares hurt by Pentland's stake sale

Dec 12, 2019

Shares in JD Sports plummeted by 10.6% to 714.1p on Wednesday as investors reacted to news that its biggest shareholder, Pentland, had sold off a stake in the sportswear retailer.

Pentland, which also owns sportswear specialists like Berghaus, Canterbury and Speedo, confirmed it sold 24 million shares worth £177 million.

The shares were acquired by international institutional investors by way of an accelerated bookbuild at 740p each.

The decision to sell the shares reduced Pentland’s shareholding in JD Sports to 55%, which means the British group continues to be the sportswear company’s largest shareholder. It first became an investor in JD Sports in 2005 with the purchase of a 45% stake which later became 57.5%.

The funds raised will be used for “future investments,” Pentland said. Last year, the giant added cycling apparel brand Endura to its portfolio.

Chairman Stephen Rubin said: “Pentland is committed to remaining a long-term majority shareholder in JD at the same time as growing our portfolio of sports, outdoor and fashion brands through organic investment and acquisitions.

“Today’s share sale enables us to further this strategy by realising a small portion of our shareholding in JD to fund future investment activity, as well as increasing the free float to meet the increasing interest expressed in JD by other shareholders.”

JD Sports shares picked up slightly on Thursday and were trading at 740p in the afternoon.

“Despite the sale Pentland still remains a majority shareholder in the business owning 55% of the share capital, and the shares are still up over 100% year to date, which doesn’t seem too bad a return,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK.

Pentland relies on JD’s success to boost its revenues. In 2018, the sportswear company helped Pentland post a 40% increase in revenues to £5.1 billion. But a planned expansion of JD’s business through the acquisition of Footasylum is struggling to materialise, as the deal is being investigated by the competition watchdog.

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