The founder of Sports Direct has built a reputation for betting heavily on rival businesses. Credit: Carl Court/Getty Images Europe
Frasers Group has acquired a £75m stake in AO World as the retail empire founded by Mike Ashley continues to close side deals under new chief executive Michael Murray.
The owner of Sports Direct said it acquired an 18.9% stake in the online home appliance retailer after the markets closed on Friday.
Frasers Group, which also owns Flannels and Evans Cycles, has acquired 109 million shares of JSC at a price of 68 pence each. Shares closed at 69.15 pence on Friday evening.
AO World said the investment was the culmination of two years of negotiations between the companies.
Michael Murray, CEO of the Frasers Group, said he has “long admired” AO World and was “delighted to be able to form a supportive strategic partnership.”
The deal assumes that Mr. Murray, who succeeded his father-in-law Mr. Ashley last year, will continue to bet heavily on rival companies as Mr. Ashley became known for running the business. .jpg” />Michael Murray replaced Mike Ashley as CEO of the Frasers Group last year. Photo: Ben Gurr/Times Newspapers Ltd. stakes in handbag maker Mulberry and Studio Retail Group, and a small investment in Hugo Boss. The group was also created through the acquisition of struggling retailers such as Jack Wills and Sofa.com.
Details of the partnership with AO World were not disclosed. Frasers Group said AO World, which sells toasters, televisions and refrigerators, will offer information through its “clear strategy” for online-only electronics.
Mr Murray said: “Through this investment Frasers will benefit from AO's valuable electrical and shipping know-how together help us drive the growth of our hardware and home products portfolio.
“AO, in turn, will benefit from Frasers expertise and ecosystem.
John Roberts, Founder and CEO of AO, said, “This is great news for AO and fantastic support for our business.”
A wave of confidence comes after a flying few years for AO. The London-based company's share price has fallen nearly 55% over the past five years after a troubled expansion into Europe and amid shrinking demand due to the cost-of-living crisis.
Last year, the retailer warned that shoppers were canceling lucrative warranties on electrical goods as rising food and electricity prices put pressure on household budgets.