FSA to examine Whelan's deal

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) is expected to investigate the sale of 67m shares in the sports store chain JJB Sports by its former chairman, founder, and now honorary president, David Whelan.

Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012

Whelan sold his shares for £190m to a joint venture between Chris Ronnie, formerly of JJB's rival Sports Direct, and Exista - an Icelandic financial group. This sale came after Whelan's assurances to the stock exchange in January that he would not sell any more of his shares for at least 12 months. That statement came immediately after Whelan sold an 8.6% share for 'personal reasons'.

The most recent sale was announced on Friday at 9pm, after the market had closed. Whelan's move to sell came after JJB shares suffered their worst one-day fall since 1999 after the announcement of a disappointing trading statement. Whelan, the owner of Wigan Athletic FC, stood down as executive director and has been made honorary life president of the company he founded.

Ronnie, a former chief operating officer of Umbro who gave evidence to a competition enquiry into JJB fixing replica football kit prices, has now been appointed deputy chief executive of the chain. He will work alongside the JJB chief executive Tom Knight, who stated that the company has received written assurance from Ronnie that his purchase of shares has no link to his previous employer Mike Ashley, the controversial owner of Sports Direct who, it seems, is never out of the business pages these days.

The FSA declined to make any statement specific to the JJB case, but said that 'we do monitor as a matter of course the sale of shares by directors'. JJB, which has over 400 shops said Whelan's sale marked the end of an era, but understood that given his lack of an heir it was understandable that he would, sooner or later, want to cash in.

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