Sports Direct’s major shareholders are set to once again vote against the retailer’s bonus scheme that would benefit founder Mike Ashley.
Investors representing at least 18% of Sports Direct’s 38% free-float are unhappy with the revised scheme and will vote “no” at a shareholder meeting next week, Sports Direct’s fourth attempt to get through a bonus for Ashley.
Ashley, who holds a 62% stake in the Sports Direct business, will be ineligible to vote during the meeting next Wednesday.
Investors Royal London Asset Management, RPMI RailPen – the railways pension scheme – and the National Association of Pension Funds are set to vote against the bonus, according to The Telegraph.
The scheme would grant 25m shares, worth £188m at the current price, to 3,000 full-time staff including Ashley.
After the rejection of its last bonus proposal, representatives of the Association of British Insurers (ABI) arranged a meeting between six leading shareholders and Sports Direct chairman Keith Hellawell and senior independent director Simon Bentley.
Despite assurances that the company would listen to investors and would only propose bonus schemes with limits for executive management, it launched its latest scheme at the start of June.
This has led the ABI, whose members control a fifth of the stock market, to issue its most serious warning, a “red top”, to advise that there is serious corporate governance issues at the firm.
The association is calling for the vote on the bonus deal to be withdrawn.