Mike Ashley, the founder of Sports Direct International, has sold a GBP223m (US$372.6m) stake in the sporting goods retailer.

Ashley's Mash Holdings has sold 24m shares - representing 4.2% of Sports Direct - to Goldman Sachs, who is handling the placement as sole bookrunner.

In a statement, Goldman Sachs said it intends to sell up to 24m ordinary shares in Sports Direct International "by way of an accelerated bookbuild offering to institutional investors".

"Bookbuilding will commence immediately," the group said.

It is understood Goldman Sachs is looking to sell the shares on for between GBP8.50 and GBP8.70 per share, valuing them at up to GBP217.5m.

The move comes as it emerges Ashley acquired an 11% stake in department store group House of Fraser over the weekend.

The news also comes amid reports he is considering selling the stake to Chinese investor Sanpower, who is understood to be close to securing a deal as majority owner of the department store group. An announcement is expected later today.