Odey Asset Management, a London-based hedge fund, has acquired an 8.2 percent stake in The Finish Line, possibly complicating Finish Line’s merger with JD Sports Fashion.
Odey Asset Management has held shares in Sports Direct International, a U.K. rival of JD Sports, in the past.
Sports Direct had built up a stake in Finish Line last year, and reports in the U.K. surfaced that the two were exploring a merger. Sports Direct last year acquired EMS and Bob’s Stores to mark its entry into U.S. retailing.
Following the announcement of the JD deal in late March, Sports Direct revealed that it owned nearly 8 million shares in Finish Line, representing a 19.3 percent stake. Of this interest, 3.65 million shares, or over 8 percent of the company, is owned directly, and the rest is held through contracts for difference with third parties. Sports Direct is believed to be the second-largest shareholder in Finish Line.
At the time the JD deal was announced, Susquehanna analysts, led by Sam Poser, said they felt the JD deal made more sense than Sports Direct since JD’s stores have a similar premium positioning compared to Sports Direct’s discount-driven orientation.
In late March, JD Sports agreed to purchase Finish Line for $13.50 per share, a leap from the last trading-day price of $10.55. The deal was valued at $558 million in cash. The deal, which requires the approval of both companies’ shareholders, is expected to be completed no earlier than June.