Oct 27, 2009
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Sports Direct asserts claim to Kaupthing assets

Oct 27, 2009

LONDON, Oct 27 (Reuters) - British sportswear retailer Sports Direct (SPD.L) is ready to defend its claim to a 28.5 percent stake in outdoor goods firm Blacks Leisure (BSLA.L), rejecting a counter claim by administrators of Kaupthing Singer & Friedlander.


"Sports Direct is in the process of taking an action against Kaupthing Singer & Friedlander and its administrators, Ernst & Young," Sports Direct said in a statement on Tuesday 27 October. "Those parties are aware of our determination to protect and vindicate our legal rights and the situation remains ongoing."

The retailer, controlled by Newcastle United soccer club owner Mike Ashley, had originally purchased the shares, and a 13 percent stake in rival JD Sports Fashion (JD.L), with loans from Kaupthing Singer & Friedlander, which is the UK arm of failed Icelandic bank Kaupthing.

The stakes were seized by Ernst & Young when Kaupthing Singer & Friedlander collapsed last year, prompting Sports Direct to write-off the 26.2 million pound ($42.82 million) value of the holdings in its year to April 26 results.

Ernst & Young maintains the shares belong to the administrators and on Tuesday 27 October issued a holding in company statement to this effect through the stock exchange.

"The joint administrators are applying to the court for directions as to beneficial ownership of the shares in respect of the dispute," said a spokeswoman for the firm. Nobody at Blacks was immediately available for comment.

Shares in Sports Direct were up 2.4 percent at 103.9 pence at 1241 GMT, while shares in Blacks were up 1.7 percent at 29.5 pence. (Reporting by James Davey, editing by Paul Hoskins and Rupert Winchester)

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