Debenhams UK taken over by its lenders

BRITAIN-COURT-ASHLEY

Lenders to Debenhams said the final proposal, on the terms set out, was "not sufficient".

Debenhams later requested its shares be suspended with immediate effect pending a further update.

This morning, the company turned down a £200million offer by Sports Direct's Mike Ashley, on the condition he became CEO.

George Charles from money-saving website www.MoneySavingHeroes.co.uk said the high street had taken a "massive hit" from Debenhams' going into administration.

Over the weekend, Sports Direct issued a statement accusing the Debenhams board of a "sustained programme of falsehood and denials" and calling for directors to take lie detector tests following a disputed meeting.

The rejection of the rescue package means Debenhams is likely to go into pre-pack administration.

Although its 166 stores will initially continue to trade, around 50 branches were previously earmarked for closure.

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The chain, which has stores in Norwich, King's Lynn and Great Yarmouth, chose to hand itself over to lenders instead of accepting a rescue deal from Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley.

In February, it was revealed that the shutting of 20 of those stores could be brought forward if the department store chain took out a company voluntary arrangement (CVA).

He added: "Whilst these hedge funds look to close a significant number of stores and put thousands of people out of work, as politicians and regulators look on, I will go to the ends of the Earth to save as many Debenhams stores and jobs as I can, similar to the promise I made with regards to House of Fraser".

Today, chairman Terry Durry called the situation "disappointing" but said: "We remain focused on protecting as many stores and jobs as possible, consistent with establishing a sustainable store portfolio in line with our previous guidance".

But they said an existing plan to close 50 underperforming stores and demand rent cuts was "critical" to its survival.

However, this Transaction will allow Debenhams to continue trading as normal; access the funding we need; and proceed with executing our turnaround plans, whilst deleveraging the Group's balance sheet.

The administration comes after a battle between Mr Ashley and the Debenhams board over the future of the 240-year-old company.

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