Mike Ashley among American Golf's suitors

By Mark Kleinman, City editor
Mike Ashley is targeting another addition to his high street empire with a takeover of American Golf, the struggling chain that is Britain's biggest specialist golf retailer.
Sky News understands that Mr Ashley's Sports Direct International is one of a small number of parties which tabled offers this week as American Golf's current owner seeks a rapid sale.
The auction comes at a time of continued angst for much of the UK retail sector, with an unprecedented slew of prominent high street names in the process of closing sizeable numbers of stores.Mr Ashley has also shown interest in the last few days in acquiring Evans Cycles - with the auction pitting the billionaire tycoon against JD Sports Fashion and Halfords, the UK's biggest bikes chain.American Golf has been owned by Sun European Partners, a private equity group, since 2012.People close to Sun have insisted that the business is being marketed on a solvent basis and not as a pre-pack administration, although Mr Ashley's €90m takeover of House of Fraser in August illustrated his preference for the latter route.American Golf, which trades from more than 130 stores across the UK and Ireland, has told potential buyers that its performance has been hit by weather-related problems both during the extended cold snap earlier this year and then the warmer-than-usual summer.Deloitte, which is handling the auction, is said to be keen to wrap up a deal as early as next week.American Golf sells big-name brands including Callaway, TaylorMade, Titleist and Wilson.
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