JJB Sports cash call gets shareholder go-ahead

Image caption,
The money being raised will only keep the company going until March

JJB Sports has gained 99% shareholder approval for a new share issue to raise £31.5m in desperately needed cash.

The move is part of a rescue plan for the loss-making company needed to stave off a possible debt default.

The troubled High Street chain has said it is at risk of breaching covenants on its debts.

The money raised will only keep it going until March, when a further fundraising exercise is likely to follow.

The firm, which has some 6,000 UK employees, said last week it will close 45 stores as part of the plan.

Fellow sports retailer JD Sports had been in early stage talks to buy out its rival, but has pulled out until the outcome of the rescue plan is clear.

Cash needs

Much of the money will come from JJB's biggest shareholders - US fund managers Harris Associates (20% owners) and activist investor Crystal Amber (16%), as well as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (5.5%).

Slightly over half of the money will be used to make "immediate payments to creditors", with the balance funding trading losses and enabling the purchase of new stock.

JJB reported in its latest trading statement that sales were down 11%.

As if to rub salt into its wounds, rival Sports Direct announced on Friday that its sales for the last quarter rose 12%.

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