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Frasers Group Raises Stake in Mulberry, Reserves Takeover Option

Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group acquired 4.3 million shares in Mulberry to raise its stake in the British fashion brand to 37 percent.

Frasers acquired the shares from defunct Icelandic bank Kaupthing in a transaction valued at nearly 6.5 million pounds ($8.6 million). Mulberry‘s controlling shareholder is Challice Ltd., holding a 56 percent stake in the luxury brand. Challice is owned by Singapore’s Ong family. Frasers said it was reserving its option to make a voluntary offer for the company. Under U.K. Takeover Panel rules, Ashley has until Dec. 17 to make a firm offer for the fashion brand. Ordinarily, he would have been required to make a mandatory cash offer since his stake is now over the 30 percent threshold, but the Takeover Panel granted a waiver since Challice is the single controlling stakeholder.

Ashley has been fairly active on the mergers and acquisitions front scouting for deals.

In August, Frasers acquired 71 locations that belonged to DW Sports for $48.3 million. DW Sports, a sports retailer and gym operation, collapsed into administration in early August. A month later, there was talk that Frasers might make another attempt at acquiring bankrupt Debenhams, which he tried take out of bankruptcy last year. And last month, Frasers was linked as a possible bidder for Jaeger, which includes the Jacques Vert and Austin Reed brands. Jaeger collapsed into administration on Thursday.