THE future of one of Basingstoke's department stores is in doubt after Debenhams was placed into administration.

Lenders seized control of the troubled chain yesterday in a move which wiped out the stake held by Sports Direct tycoon Mike Ashley in the business, and those of all other shareholders.

It also cancels plans for an emergency shareholder meeting in which Mr Ashley was to seek his appointment to the board and attempt to oust most other directors.

Although it's not yet known which are threatened, company bosses have said that 50 of the 166 stores have already been earmarked for closure - although they will all continue to trade for now.

Administrators at FTI Consulting were appointed to the retailer, which has an outlet in Festival Place, at just before 10am on Tuesday and immediately sold the group's operating companies to a new entity owned by its lenders.

The process does not affect the retailer's pension scheme, suppliers, landlords or its immediate trading plans.

Chairman Terry Duddy said: "It is disappointing to reach a conclusion that will result in no value for our equity holders.

"However, this transaction will allow Debenhams to continue trading as normal; access the funding we need; and proceed with executing our turnaround plans, whilst deleveraging the group's balance sheet.

"We remain focused on protecting as many stores and jobs as possible, consistent with establishing a sustainable store portfolio in line with our previous guidance."

Earlier in the day, Mr Ashley's Sports Direct had made a revised £200 million rescue offer for Debenhams, delaying the department store's administration.

Under the proposal, Debenhams' lenders would have had to agree to write off £82 million of its £720 million debt mountain, as well as install the tycoon as chief executive.

Lenders to Debenhams said the proposal, on the terms set out, was "not sufficient".

The pre-pack administration undertaken by the struggling store chain will see its debt reduced and comes ahead of a wider restructuring which will see around 50 stores close.