UK Markets closed

Factbox-Outspoken British billionaire Mike Ashley

·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: FA Cup Fourth Round Replay - Oxford United v Newcastle United

(Reuters) - Mike Ashley, one of Britain's most outspoken business leaders, will step down as a director at sportswear and fashion retail group Frasers in October, months after handing over the CEO role to his daughter's partner.

Ashley, 57, has been frank and outspoken about rivals and politicians. His love of casinos and stories of settling banker fees by playing bar games, as well as clips on YouTube showing him sinking a pint of beer in a few seconds, have fed an image of a maverick far removed from the typical British business chief

Here are some facts on the British billionaire:

* At 18, Ashley started his first sports and ski shop in 1982 on a high street in the southern English town of Maidenhead, with the help of a 10,000 pound loan from his parents

* By the late 1990s, he had opened 100 stores across the UK, rebranding his chain as Sports Soccer

* He then took the company public under the name Sports Direct in 2007; The company is now worth 3.75 billion pounds ($4.29 billion) and Ashley is worth 4.02 billion pounds as of June 2022, according to Forbes

* In 2007, Ashley also bought British Premier League soccer club Newcastle United, which in 2021 was bought out by a Saudi-Arabian backed consortium after a long-running takeover saga

* Known for his acquisition of fellow retailers, Ashley bought a stake in House of Fraser in 2014, and over the years, has taken positions in Debenhams, MySale, Tesco, Adidas and Hugo Boss

* He was heavily criticised by senior British politicians and unions after an investigation in 2015 revealed some workers at Sports Direct received less than the minimum wage

* Calls for him to step down as Sports Direct chairman were rejected by the company and Ashley was made CEO

* Sports Direct purchased House of Fraser out of administration in 2018 and in 2019 after the merger, he rebranded the Sports Direct empire as Frasers

* Ashley stepped down as Frasers CEO early this year, handing over the baton to his daughter's partner Michael Murray, who married his daughter in May; Ashley has three children

(Sources: Company website, Reuters reports and UK government website)

(1 British pound = $1.1442)

(Reporting by Radhika Anilkumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Susan Fenton)