Sports Direct chairman Keith Hellawell faces investor revolt

  • 6 September 2017
  • From the section Business

Keith HellawellImage copyright

Sports Direct chairman Keith Hellawell faces a rebellion from independent shareholders at the retailer’s annual general meeting.

Investors will vote on Mr Hellawell’s re-election to the post.

Paul Lee, head of corporate governance at Aberdeen Standard, who will vote against Mr Hellawell, said the result would be “very close”.

His re-election has become “a lightning rod” for shareholders’ concerns about the business, Mr Lee told the BBC.

Other investors, Hermes and Fidelity, have also indicated they will vote against Mr Hellawell.

Two shareholder advisory groups, Pirc and the Institutional Shareholder Service, are reported to have recommended shareholders oppose his re-election.

Mr Lee said the chairman had “become a symbol of wider corporate governance concerns” at Sports Direct.

The retailer has faced criticism for its treatment of workers and the influence of founder and chief executive Mike Ashley, who owns 61% of the company.

Mr Hellawell, a former chief constable of West Yorkshire and government drugs tsar, survived a revolt by independent shareholders in January to remain in his post.

Although almost 54% of independent shareholders voted against his re-appointment, Mr Hellawell was backed by Mr Ashley.

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