Sports Direct chairman Keith Hellawell could be ousted at the retailer’s annual general meeting later this week as another shareholder confirms it will vote against his re-election.
One of the biggest independent shareholders in Sports Direct – Fidelity International – has joined the revolt against its chairman, The Times reported.
Fidelity International, which owns almost 6% of the sports and leisurewear retailer, is planning to vote against the re-appointment of Keith Hellawell at the annual meeting tomorrow.
Fidelity also plans to vote against the re-election of Simon Bentley, the senior independent director seen as a potential replacement for Hellawell.
Last week, British fund manager Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM), which holds a 0.8% stake in the sports retailer, has said it will vote against Hellawell at the retailer’s AGM on September 6.
LGIM is the third shareholder advisory group to recommend investors vote against his re-election, alongside Institutional Shareholder Services and (ISS) and Pensions & Investments Research Consultants (PIRC).
LGIM’s director of corporate governance Sacha Sadan said: “Although we are encouraged by some of the positive steps made over the past year, such as refreshing the board and labour relations, we believe progress is not sufficient to warrant supporting the chairman’s re-election this year.
“We believe that all shareholders should continue to send a strong signal to Sports Direct calling for change.”
The news comes shortly after two senior shareholders in the business sold their stakes due to mounting concerns over the retailer’s corporate governance.
At last year’s annual general meeting, 54% of independent shareholders voted against Hellawell’s re-election.
Although his position was safeguarded by Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley, who used his majority shareholding to support the chairman in a separate vote, Hellawell offered to resign and later said he would stand down if he did not receive a majority vote this year.
Since that time Sports Direct has had several exits across its senior team including former chief executive Dave Forsey and its only female non-executive director, Claire Jenkins, and reported a 58.7% slump in preliminary profits.
Ashley, who controls 62% of Sports Direct, will not attend next week’s AGM.