UK retailer JJB says CEO no longer holds stake

LONDON, Jan 13 (Reuters) - Sportswear retailer JJB Sports JJB.L said on Tuesday Chief Executive Chris Ronnie no longer owned any shares in the group after Kaupthing Singer & Friedlander (KSF) took control of his stake.

KSF, the UK unit of Icelandic state-controlled bank Kaupthing, has since gone into administration and as a result, the stake is now held by administrators PriceWaterhouseCoopers and Ernst and Young.

PWC’s joint liquidator Michael Simpson said he would take a careful and considered approach in respect of the shares.

“I have and continue to take advice in this regard,” he said in a statement. “I would stress that there is no requirement for me to dispose of these positions within a set timeframe or in a time pressured manner and that my role is to optimise the recovery for creditors.”

Ronnie formed a joint venture with Icelandic financial group Exista to buy the stake in 2007 from JJB founder David Whelan. JJB said at the time Whelan had sold his stake of around 29 percent for about 190 million pounds.

Sources familiar with the situation said on Tuesday KSF had been involved in the original financing of the deal.

JJB said on Tuesday that Kaupthing had seized control of the stake owned by the joint venture, now known as Guro Leisure Limited, but that Ronnie had not been aware of the date, place or price of the transaction.

As far as voting rights are concerned, the group said that KSF Isle of Man had held the rights for 23.3 percent of the shares. KSF also held the rights to 2.8 percent of the total voting rights and it no longer holds any interest in a further 1.3 percent.

“As a result of the company’s continuing investigation, the company believes that, together with the shares previously held by KSF, the shares currently held by KSF comprise the balance of the shares held by Guro Leisure Limited,” JJB said in a statement.

JJB, which last month struck a temporary deal with its lenders, is due to report its Christmas trading on Thursday and analysts are expecting a big fall in sales.


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