Sports Direct's chairman lives to fight another day

Helen Cahill
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Hellawell said he would walk if independent investors did not support him (Source: Parliament TV)

Sports Direct's chairman has lived to fight another day after independent investors narrowly supported his re-election at the company's annual general meeting (AGM) today.

Keith Hellawell said he would resign if he did not receive the support of independent investors at this year's meeting, but he has survived after 53.2 per cent of them voted in favour of his re-election.

Read more: Sports Direct share price dips as it prepares for AGM showdown

Hellawell was under significant pressure from shareholders to resign at last year's AGM after a string of scandals at the firm. He was saved by chief executive Mike Ashley, who is a majority shareholder at Sports Direct.

Ahead of this year's meeting, shareholder advisory groups called for his removal, saying that Sports Direct has not done enough to improve its working practices and corporate governance.

Pensions & Investment Research Consultants (Pirc) criticised Hellawell's ineffectiveness on a myriad of issues, including the £40m purchase of a company plane and the hiring of Ashley's daughter's boyfriend to head up Sports Direct's property team.

Issuing a trading update this morning, Sports Direct said it is aiming to grow earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation by five to 15 per cent during the 2018 financial year.

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