Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley has acquired 41.6% of UK football club Newcastle United, and is looking for a controlling stake.

Ashley, who made GBP929m (US$1,846m) from the floatation of the sportswear retailer in February, bought 55.3m shares in the club yesterday (23 May) for 100 pence per share.

In March, he spent GBP183m in purchasing a 3.14% stake in Adidas Group, and his investment in Newcastle caught the city by surprise.

He has set up a company called St James Holdings Limited (SJHL) to buy the stake.

In accordance with stock exchange rules, SJHL also announced the terms of a cash offer to be made for the rest of Newcastle's issued share capital, at 100 pence pre share, valuing the club at GBP133.1m. 

Upon recommendation from the Newcastle board, this would result in SJHL holding more than 50% of shares and a controlling stake in the club.

Ashley said: "I am delighted to have this opportunity to invest in Newcastle United. The club has a fantastic infrastructure, for which Sir John and the board must take much of the credit. I am pleased that Sir John has agreed to remain as life president of the club. 

"Newcastle United has a wonderful heritage and the passion of its fans is legendary. I am sure that, like me, they are already excited about the prospects for next season under the new manager's stewardship."

Sir John Hall said: "Mike Ashley is a major player in the sporting world and I am convinced that he is the right person to take my place and take the club forward. I am sure he will be good for the club and its loyal fans and indeed for the region. I wish him the very best and hope he enjoys it as much as I have."

Newcastle's shares soared on the London Stock Exchange following the announcement, while the club made the following announcement: "The board of Newcastle United will meet to consider the offer shortly. Newcastle United shareholders are urged to take no further action at this stage."

Ashley floated 43% of his Sports Direct International business on 27 February this year, placing 309.6m shares with investors at 300 pence per share.