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Mike Ashley's Sports Direct in market for £100m Evans Cycles sale?

Newcastle United FC owner's business said to be among those interested in buying chain as investors seek exit...

Newcastle United and Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley is reported to be among potential purchasers of the UK’s largest specialist bicycle retail chain, Evans Cycles.

Last month, it was reported that Active Capital, the private equity firm that bought the retailer in 2008 in a deal worth £35 million, was exploring a potential sale of the business.

According to Telegraph.co.uk, online retailer Wiggle, also under private equity ownership, is interested in acquiring Evans too, as are other investment firms.

But the newspaper says that Halfords, which sells more bicycles than anyone else in the UK, has “categorically ruled out” bidding for the business founded in South London in 1921 which now has more than 50 branches.

Active Capital, which also owns the fast casual dining chain Leon, is said to have appointed the Canada-based firm Canaccord Genuity to handle any potential sale.

The Telegraph says that Sports Direct wants to expand into cycling, but adds that a potential stumbling block to any deal is whether brands such as Specialized and Trek would continue to supply Evans should it be bought by the retailer.

Founded in Maidenhead, Berkshire in 1982 as Mike Ashley Sports, from the late 1990s on the business now known as Sports Direct has made a string of acquisitions of sports brands.

In 2002, it acquired London-based sports retailer Lillywhites, including its Piccadilly Circus flagship store, and in 2004 it bought Dunlop Slazenger.

Ashley floated part of the business on the London Stock Exchange in 2007, but remains its majority shareholder.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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