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Debenhams in advanced talks to secure new loans in bid to block Mike Ashley coup

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Debenhams in advanced talks to secure new loans in bid to block Mike Ashley coup
FILE PHOTO: Shoppers walk past a window display at the Debenhams department store on Oxford Street in London, Britain December 17, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson/File Photo   -   Copyright  SIMON DAWSON(Reuters)
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(Reuters) – Debenhams said on Monday it was in advanced talks with its lenders for additional loans of about £150 million, as the ailing department store chain looks to fend off retail tycoon Mike Ashley’s bid to take charge of the company.

The announcement comes days after Ashley, one of Britain’s most famous and unorthodox businessmen, said he was willing to take charge of Debenhams and would seek to remove most of the board and install himself in an executive role.

Ashley, the billionaire owner of Newcastle United soccer club, said he was willing to step down as CEO of Sports Direct Plc if shareholders at Debenhams backed his proposals.

Debenhams said on Monday that it would use £40 million from the new loans to refinance a bridge facility of the same amount announced on Feb. 12.

The company, struggling with net debt of almost £300 million, had secured a £40 million lifeline in February from some of its lenders for a period of 12 months that would act as a bridge to “facilitate a broader refinancing and recapitalisation”.

(Reporting by Sangameswaran S in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

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