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Sports Direct criticised over finance director role

Mike Ashley has come under pressure from Sports Direct shareholders over the business’s 14-month run without a finance director.

Crispin Odey, Sports Direct’s third largest investor through Odey Asset Management with a 5% stake, called the wait a “big concern,” according to The Sunday Telegraph.

He added that failure to appoint a permanent replacement for Bob Mellors, who retired in December 2013 for health reasons, means there is no one to question Ashley’s decisions.

“This puts too much power into one person’s hands,” he said. “They have got to move quickly on this.”

Savings and investment firm Standard Life, which owns 1.8% of the business, also weighed in with criticism, adding there is “a need for a higher standard of governance assurance,”

In its annual governance and stewardship review published on Friday, it said: “Concern over governance arrangements has been a persistent theme of the relationship between Sports Direct and its minority investors. 

“These issues have included board appointments, inappropriate remuneration arrangements, share lock-up agreements and Sports Direct’s practice of buying minority stakes in other companies.”

Since December 2013, Ashley has acquired shares in Tesco, Debenhams and off-price fashion etailer MySale.

Following Mellors’ departure, Sports Direct’s mergers and acquisitions boss Jeff Blue assumed the responsibilities. However, last month it was revealed that he is set to leave at the end of March, adding to the uncertainty.

The news report claimed Sports Direct declined to comment. Drapers has contacted the business. 

@LukeToddUK

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