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UK businessman Mike Ashley to step down as Frasers' director

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

By Radhika Anilkumar

(Reuters) -Mike Ashley, one of Britain's best known and 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, will leave the board of the business empire he started from a single shop in the 1980s on Oct. 19 and provide the company with 100 million pounds ($114 million) of additional funding as he does so, Frasers said on Tuesday.

"It is clear that the Group has the right leadership and strategy in place and I feel very confident passing the baton to Michael and his team," Ashley said in a statement.

Ashley said in 2021 he would step down as CEO of the retailer, formerly known as Sports Direct, and hand over the top job to now son-in-law, Michael Murray, who assumed the role in May this year.

Ashley, who started Sports Direct in a town west of London, took over as CEO in 2016. Among many deals, Sports Direct purchased the House of Fraser department store chain out of administration in 2018.

Ashley's frank comments about rivals and politicians, a love of casinos, stories of settling banker fees by playing bar games and 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.

Ashley is by no means completely out of the picture. He retains about 69% of Frasers' controlling equity and would be available in an advisory capacity when called upon.

In July Frasers forecast higher profit next year, after a record-breaking 2022 driven by store reopenings and high demand for its sportswear.

($1 = 0.8755 pounds)

(Reporting by Radhika Anilkumar and Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru; Editing by Uttaresh.V and Mark Potter)