Tuesday 10 September 2019 4:40 pm

Mike Ashley to face shareholder anger at Sports Direct meeting

Retail tycoon Mike Ashley is preparing to face frustrated Sports Direct shareholders at a meeting tomorrow following a turbulent year for the business. 

The founder and chief executive of the sportswear retailer has come under fire from shareholder advisory groups in the run up to tomorrow’s annual general meeting. 

Read more: Mike Ashley makes move for Links of London

Influential proxy advisors Glass Lewis, Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) and Pirc have all recommended investors rebel and vote against Ashley’s reelection as a director. 

Glass Lewis said the businessman is “inextricably linked with myriad controversies, past and ongoing”. 

In a note to investors Pirc said “shareholders of the company are faced with a decline in profitability, loss of value for their shares, no dividend distribution and a further potential loss when the tax evasion case concludes”.

The shareholder meeting, which journalists have been blocked from attending, is the first since the botched publication of the group’s annual results earlier this year.

An auditor is yet to be appointed after Grant Thornton quit following the unprecedented delay to the publication of the results and the last minute revelation of a €674m Belgian tax bill.

Anger has mounted over the billionaire’s shopping spree, which in recent months has seen Ashley snap up Jack Wills for £12.8m and this week reportedly put in a bid for troubled jewellery group Links of London. 

The string of acquisitions also includes Game, Evans Cycles and Sofa.com.

Read more: Sports Direct ‘trying to drive Debenhams into administration’

In July, the company revealed that House of Fraser, which it acquired last year, is struggling with “terminal” problems. 

Meanwhile, the retailer has recently funded a legal challenge against Debenhams’ restructuring plan after the department store was taken over by a group of its lenders, wiping out the existing shareholders, including Sports Direct.

Main image credit: Getty