February 1, 2019 / 10:02 AM / 6 months ago

UPDATE 1-Mike Ashley buys Sofa.com in cut-price deal -Sky News

(Recasts with Sky News reports, adds details, background)

Feb 1 (Reuters) - Billionaire Mike Ashley, who controls British sportswear retailer Sports Direct, agreed to acquire Sofa.com for “a nominal sum”, Sky News reported on Friday, ending a battle with ScS Group to buy the maker of handcrafted beds and sofas.

The deal would allow Ashley to add more Sofa.com concessions to House of Fraser chain he rescued last year, the report said, adding the cut price deal for Sofa.com had been a “solvent transaction” which preserved jobs.

British sofa and carpet retailer ScS Group said on Friday it was no longer in talks for a potential deal to buy Sofa.com Ltd, days after it confirmed the talks.

Sky News had reported earlier this week that Ashley was competing with ScS to buy Sofa.com.

Sofa.com’s sale comes as retailers struggle with a slowdown in spending amid uncertainty whether Britain will manage an orderly withdrawal from the European Union.

The deal adds to an already lengthy list of UK investments by Ashley, who also owns Premier League soccer club Newcastle United.

Last year, Sports Direct bought department store group House of Fraser for 90 million pounds ($117.84 million) and snapped up specialist cycling retailer Evans Cycles.

It also owns a raft of stakes in other UK retailers, including nearly 30 percent of Debenhams.

Sky News has also reported that Ashley, who owns 61 percent of Sports Direct equity and is a well known business figure in Britain, is in talks to rescue music retailer HMV from administration.

ScS did not give a reason for ending the talks.

Sofa.com, put up for sale last month, is thought to have been hurt when House of Fraser went under and a number of its outlets were shuttered, Sky News had reported.

Private banking and asset management firm LGT took control of sofa.com from private equity firm CBPE in April.

ScS, which stands for “Sofa Carpet Specialist”, said in October it would stop selling its sofas and carpets at House of Fraser stores from January, saying the partnership had ceased to be beneficial since Ashley bought the collapsed department store group.

Sports Direct, ScS and Sofa.com did not immediately respond to requests for comment. ($1 = 0.7638 pounds) (Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru and additional reporting by James Davey in London; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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