[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 26 January 2007, 11:40 GMT
JJB founder sells 50m of shares
JJB Stores
JJB Sports has more than 430 shops in the UK
JJB Sports founder David Whelan has raised 50m through the sale of an 8.6% stake in the sportswear retailer.

Mr Whelan said he had sold 20.5 million shares for personal reasons, leading to speculation that he will buy players for his football club Wigan Athletic.

Playing in their second season in the Premier League, Wigan have currently lost seven league games in succession.

Mr Whelan founded JJB Sports in 1971 and it now has more than 430 shops. He bought Wigan Athletic in 1995.

The sale of an 8.6% stake in JJB Sports reduces Mr Whelan and his family's holding to around 29%.

Bid speculation

Analysts said Mr Whelan had taken advantage of JJB's high share price, which has outperformed the UK retail sector average by 30% over the past 12 months.

JJB Sports owner David Whelan
Mr Whelan founded JJB Sports in 1971

The firm's shares have risen strongly over the past year, due to its revenue growth, but also rumours that it could be a bid target for unnamed suitors.

Analysts were unsure whether Mr Whelan's sale makes a possible bid more or less likely, but he has pledged not to sell any more shares in the business for at least 12 months.

"The speculation would be that Wigan is getting near to the relegation zone and has had difficulty getting their hands on new players and this would give him more firepower to pay big bucks," said one analyst, who declined to be named.

JJB's shares were down 4.4% to 246.75p in Friday trading.


SEE ALSO
JJB warehouse staff to walk out
18 Dec 06 |  Manchester
JJB workers' pay dispute settled
20 Nov 06 |  Manchester
JJB staff to consider pay offer
16 Nov 06 |  Manchester
Football fans to back JJB workers
11 Nov 06 |  Manchester
More strikes for sports retailer
09 Nov 06 |  Manchester
JJB workers go on strike over pay
31 Oct 06 |  Manchester

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific