Sports Direct shareholders to vote on payment to John Ashley
Sports Direct shareholders are to vote on an £11m payment to the brother of billionaire founder Mike Ashley.
Mr Ashley will abstain from the vote along with the retailer’s board, but they support the resolution, the company announced.
An internal probe looking into the retailer’s affairs has found that John Ashley was underpaid.
He was denied the payments “because of concerns at the time about public relations”, Sports Direct said.
The shareholder meeting will be held on 13 December.
John Ashley, Mike’s elder brother, left his job as the retailer’s IT chief in 2015 to join a company that had a contract with Sports Direct.
That led to more criticism about the retailer’s corporate governance standards, and put further pressure on chairman Keith Hellawell.
In September, Mr Hellawell narrowly survived an attempt to oust him.
‘Should be paid’
Mike Ashley said on Friday: “I intend to voluntarily abstain from the vote on whether or not John should receive the money that he would otherwise have earned at Sports Direct if he were not my brother.”
“I fully expect that independent shareholders will vote against this proposal due to the passage of time involved, although in my opinion, technically the money is owed and therefore should be paid.”
The purpose of the review, led by Sports Direct’s legal advisors RPC and independent accountants Smith & Williamson, was to investigate “total amounts paid in money and in kind to John Ashley, which had been called into question given his position as brother of Mike Ashley”.
The review found that he was owed the money in bonuses and performance-related share awards.