Mike Ashley has had his bonus cancelled for the second year in a row

Perhaps that explains why the Sports Direct founder has been gradually selling off his shares. A man has to put food on the table.

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 02 Jul 2014

You’ve got to feel sorry for Sports Direct founder/Newcastle United owner/possible Debenhams shareholder Mike Ashley. He hasn’t taken a salary since his company floated in 2007, and now shareholders have quashed plans to award him a nice juicy bonus for the second year in a row. A man got to eat…

Shares in Sports Direct have more than doubled since this time last year, so you can see why the board was keen to reward Ashley for his hard work – to the tune of £70m. Although the company had the backing of its second-largest investor, Odey Asset Management (Ashley is the largest, with 60% of the company), other big investors like Schroders are worried that, because the bonus scheme doesn’t apply to other executives, it’s not great corporate governance.

Or, as Dave Singleton, chairman of the company’s remuneration committee, put it: ‘During our on-going discussions with institutional shareholders, it became apparent that, while we had the support of some of our largest shareholders, we had not been able to secure the requisite level of shareholder approval.’

Right.

The strange thing, added Singleton, is that ‘a clear majority (over 60%) voted in favour of the original scheme proposed in September 2012 and we narrowly missed the required support for the Supplemental Executive Share Scheme’.

So what now for Ashley? The company has cancelled a general meeting it was supposed to have on Friday and, basically, is going to have another go next year: at its annual general meeting in 2015 it will vote on the proposals yet again. If things become lean before then, Ashley can always sell off some more shares…

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