The FTSE 250-listed retail group announced after the market close on Tuesday that it was not going to follow through with its 5p per share offer for Goals, in which it already holds an 18.9% stake.
This was, it said, due to not being able to complete the due diligence after only “limited and fitful access and cooperation” was given by the Goals board, which apparently withheld access to forensic accounting reports and permission to speak to the main lender “extremely late in the process”.
Goals, which has been suspended from trading since discovering accounting errors in March, had launched an accelerated M&A (AMA) process with Deloitte in mid-June, inviting offers for the business and assets of the company.
While an investigation by forensic accountants at BDO continues to examine the activities of former Goals chief executive Keith Rogers and finance director Bill Gow, the company was delisted at the start of October after being unable to file its accounts and admitting unpaid taxes might be much higher than the £12mln originally thought.
In a statement, a spokesman for Goals said: “Goals has provided Sports Direct with all of the information they have requested as and when it became available. The board has not frustrated in any way Sports Direct from making an offer for the business.”
Inspector Ashley investigates
But Ashley was not willing to leave the matter there, it seemed, as a furious further statement published on Wednesday showed.
It said: “Given the issues within the Goals business, Sports Direct believes that it would be convenient for those concerned if Goals, and its corporate history, disappeared as a result of the AMA process.
“From the beginning, the attitude of the Goals board made no sense, including proclamations to senior management of Sports Direct that the issues impacting on, and leading to the catastrophic failure of, the business had only been perpetuated by one person.”
Sports Direct said size and timeframe of “inappropriate actions” that led to Goals accounting problems “could not be only the result of one person's behaviour” and suggested the Goals board “apparent failure to spot and deal” with the accounting problems “amounts to incredible incompetence and ignorance…and potentially far worse”.
Ashley continued to call for a full investigation by both the AIM regulators and an independently appointed third Read More – Source