SPORTS Direct triumphed yesterday in pushing through a multimillion-pound bonus share scheme for founder Mike Ashley despite vehement opposition from several shareholder groups.
The retail giant’s third attempt at rewarding Ashley, who did not vote, was backed by 60.4 per cent of investors – overcoming opponents to the scheme such as Scottish fund manager Standard Life.
The special shareholder meeting at Sports Direct’s Shirebrook headquarters lasted just five minutes, as most investors voted by proxy, and ended with the billionaire Newcastle United owner departing by helicopter.
Pirc, the investor body which urged its members to vote against the bonus, said the 60 per cent vote “shouldn’t be taken as a win”, describing it as a “very narrow victory at best”.
“The business culture that seeks huge bonus payments for executives is out of step with shareholder and community expectation its time that the message got through,” a spokesperson told City A.M.
Ashley, who holds a 57.7 per cent stake, does not receive a bonus or salary for his role as deputy chairman.
Under the proposal, which could pay out £200m to “eligible” employees including Ashley, earnings would need to more than double by the end of the period in 2019 to £750m.
Addressing a handful of shareholders who attended the meeting, chairman Keith Hellawell said the scheme “recognises the substantial contribution made by Mike Ashley over many years.”