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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 May 2007, 16:30 GMT 17:30 UK
Profile: Mike Ashley
Mike Ashley
Mr Ashley is said to prefer to avoid the spotlight
Mike Ashley, the billionaire sportswear tycoon who has made a 133.1m offer for Newcastle United, secured his fortune through his Sports World stores.

Founded in 1982, the chain is today the UK's largest seller of sporting goods.

The success of the firm means Mr Ashley, 42, is now said to be the UK's 25th wealthiest person. According to the Sunday Times, he is worth 1.9bn.

He pocketed 929m in a single day in February when he floated a 43% stake in the firm on the stock market.

The move also saw the company renamed Sports Direct International, although the stores will remain under the Sports World brand.

Adidas share

There are now 465 Sports World outlets in five countries, and the company also owns London's landmark Lillywhites sportswear shop.

Sports World carrier bag
The firm has 465 shops

However, the firm disappointed investors in April when it gave a weaker than expected trading update.

The acquisitive Mr Ashley has spent about 200m this year to purchase a 3% stake in German sportswear company Adidas.

He also owns just under 30% of outdoor clothing and camping chain Blacks Leisure.

Previously known for avoiding the headlines, Buckinghamshire-born Mr Ashley is said to be keen to keep his personal life private.

Yet it was reported in 2002 that he had to pay an estimated 50m in a divorce settlement.

Ashley is thought to follow England games but has no particular club allegiance.

Newcastle get 133m buyout offer
23 May 07 |  Business
Newcastle name Allardyce as boss
15 May 07 |  Newcastle United
Sports Direct founder earns 929m
27 Feb 07 |  Business
Belgravia ends Newcastle Utd bid
19 Jan 07 |  Business
Polygon ends Newcastle bid talks
04 Jan 07 |  Business
Newcastle deny takeover rumours
15 Dec 06 |  Newcastle United

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