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Mike Ashley launches a bid to take over HMV.

Byline: KATHRYN RIDDELL Reporter @KathrynRiddell

NEWCASTLE United owner Mike Ashley is in talks to acquire HMV as he continues to build up his business empire.

The Sports Direct tycoon could buy out the struggling music and entertainment chain in a bid to rescue it from administration.

Three days after Christmas, HMV's parent company HMV Retail was forced to appoint administrators for the second time in six years after one of the toughest Christmas trading periods for retailers in a decade. Mr Ashley is believed to have held talks with HMV in the last fortnight and has tabled a bid to take control of the business.

In the last six months Mr Ashley has bought House of Fraser and Evans Cycles in 'pre-pack' insolvency deals and was one of a handful of parties to lodge formal offers relating to HMV with KPMG ahead of a deadline on January 15.

It was unclear yesterday whether his bid had been made through Sports Direct International or another corporate vehicle.

With Mr Ashley believed to be examining the potential of a number of troubled retailers, sources said he was "serious" about buying HMV.

He is understood to believe that music and other entertainment products could be a valuable addition to parts of his high-street empire, which includes Sports Direct.

The tycoon is already a significant shareholder in Game Digital and could pursue a move to merge it with HMV if he gains control of the music chain.

KPMG refused to comment on the identity of the bidders for HMV.

Sports Direct could not be reached for comment.

The value of the offers for HMV was also unclear.

Mr Ashley has become an increasingly prominent figure in the boardrooms of his rivals, buying stakes in Debenhams, French Connection and other high-street chains.

More than 2,000 jobs at HMV are at stake as its fate reaches a critical moment, KPMG likely to decide on a preferred bidder by the end of this week.

HMV has been owned by Hilco, an investment firm, for nearly six years and has more than 125 shops.

Hilco blamed a "tsunami" of challenges for HMV's demise and said a slump in CD and DVD sales meant the business was not a going concern in its current form.

HMV originally fell into administration in January 2013.

Hilco, which last year bought Homebase, purchased the group's debt and acquired the business in a PS50m deal several months later.

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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jan 21, 2019
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