SIR Philip Green last night dismissed a Topshop “rescue bid” by Mike Ashley as a “publicity stunt”, leading to a stand-off between the rival billionaires.
Sports Direct boss Ashley said he would offer a £50million “lifeline” to keep Green’s Arcadia Group out of administration and save 13,000 jobs.
But Sir Philip, relaxing on his £100million superyacht in tax haven Monaco, told pals the gesture was “laughable”.
Thousands of staff now face a worrying Christmas as the two fatcats engage in a war of words over the firm’s future. A source close to billionaire Sir Philip, 68, said: “He knows this is purely a publicity stunt by Mike Ashley.
“Raising cash is not the problem, it’s securing the company’s pension fund. Sir Philip knows the clock is ticking but he won’t make any rash decisions.
“A lot of lessons were learned with Dominic Chappell and the BHS fiasco. Sir Philip is not keen to jump into bed with a chancer like Mike Ashley.”
Green’s Arcadia Group — which owns TopShop, TopMan, Burton, Dorothy Perkins, Miss Selfridge, Wallis and Evans — could appoint administrators as soon as tomorrow. A source at the company said last night: “It’s all very well for Mike Ashley to offer a cash loan, but on what terms?
“If the business goes into administration, he will want to take a slice of it, which could substantially eat into the pension fund share.”
Last month, it emerged in court that BHS collapsed after Green blocked a sale to Ashley, 56, because he “couldn’t entertain the notion of selling to a competitor”.
Green sold the chain to Dominic Chappell for just £1 in 2015, but it then collapsed only a year later.
Labour MP Stephen Timms said: “Whatever happens, the Green family must make good the deficit in the Arcadia pension fund.”
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