Laxey Partners is believed to have snapped up an 11.8% stake in Shaftesbury. Sunday Times

It is understood that Laxey has agreed to pay a premium price to assume control of a holding in the £775m Shaftesbury group.

The stake it bought was built up through complex derivatives, known as contracts for difference, by Mike Ashley, the billionaire sportswear tycoon, and Paul Kemsley, the property magnate.

Shaftesbury executives have been made aware of Laxey’s position in the company.

Laxey has bought the position for its new Terra Catalyst fund, which recently floated on the Alternative Investment Market, raising £116m.

It has not made its intentions toward Shaftesbury clear, but City sources said the group believes Shaftesbury shares, which have slumped 30% since last May, are undervalued.