Freshfields in pole position for Sports Direct float

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has scooped the mandate to advise Sports Direct International on its admission to the London Stock Exchange.

The firm is acting for the leading sports retailer and founder Mike Ashley on an initial public offering (IPO) of its shares, with the offer expected to net Ashley up to £900m.

Sports Direct International market value could be in the region of £2bn after shares were priced yesterday (13 February) at between 250p to 310p.

Corporate partner Chris Mort is leading Freshfields’ team while Linklaters is understood to be advising the underwriters on the listing.

Sports Direct operates 465 stores worldwide, of which 410 are in the UK trading as Sports World, Sports Direct, Original Show Company and Lillywhites fascias. The group also owns Donnay, Dunlop, Kangol, Karrimol and Lonsdale.

Mort said the most unusual thing about the deal was the requirement to bring together a range of groups over which Sports Direct has control.

Ashley, who plans to add another 200 stores to Sports World by 2011, is expected to sell up to 40 per cent of his shareholding. He will be executive deputy chairman of the quoted group and will commit not to sell any of his remaining holding for two years.

The offer price will be announced on 27 February.