Mike Ashley’s Fraser Group in talks to rescue collapsed Debenhams

SPORTS Direct boss Mike Ashley has confirmed his Frasers Group business is in talks to buy and rescue Debenhams.

Frasers said it hopes a possible rescue deal can save at least some of the 12,000 jobs that have been put at risk by the retailer’s potential liquidation.

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Debenhams is close to a potential liquidation, with 12,000 jobs at risk[/caption]

However, Mr Ashley has warned that unless talks can be concluded quickly, it may not be able to save Debenhams’ UK business.

If a deal is not agreed quickly, Frasers said it may not go ahead.

The group said: “Whilst Frasers Group hopes that a rescue package can be put in place and jobs saved, time is short and the position is further complicated by the recent administration of the Arcadia Group, Debenhams’ biggest concession holder.

“There is no certainty that any transaction will take place, particularly if discussions cannot be concluded swiftly.”

Last week saw a bloodbath on the high street as both Debenhams and Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia, which owns Topshop and Burton among others, were put at risk.

Debenhams looked as though it might disappear from the high street after 242 years when JD Sports pulled out of a potential deal to buy the business out of administration.

Frasers finance boss Chris Wootton signalled over the weekend that his company might be interested in a deal for Debenhams, in an interview with the Sunday Times.

He told the paper: “We hope to be able to save as many jobs as possible.

“However, we have found that Debenhams has been overly reliant on Arcadia for many years, and, with the administration of Arcadia last week, as well as no end in sight to the outdated business rates regime which unduly punishes the likes of Debenhams, it may be a bridge too far.”

In a statement to the stock exchange, Frasers said: “The company confirms that it is in negotiations with the administrators of Debenhams’ UK business regarding a potential rescue transaction for Debenhams’ UK operations.

“Whilst Frasers Group hopes that a rescue package can be put in place and jobs saved, time is short and the position is further complicated by the recent administration of the Arcadia Group, Debenhams’ biggest concession holder.

“There is no certainty that any transaction will take place, particularly if discussions cannot be concluded swiftly.”

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