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Sports Direct faces opposition over Findel board appointment

Sports Direct is facing increasing opposition to its attempts to install a director on the board of home shopping business Findel, owner of football strip retailer Kitbag.

The Mike Ashley-owned retailer, which acquired an 18.9% share of Findel on September 19, has proposed to appoint Benjamin Gardener to its board at a general meeting on December 21.

Gardener, who is managing director of intellectual property protection company International Brand Solutions, has worked for and with Sports Direct in various guises since 2004, including a four-year stint as global head of brands.

Last week, Findel’s board unanimously recommended that shareholders vote against the resolution to appoint him as a non-executive director.

Shareholders Toscafund, Schroders and River & Mercantile, who have a combined 43.9% stake in Findel, have now agreed to vote against.

Investors are thought to be seriously concerned about Findel’s future if Sports Direct gains control. Sports Direct came under fire earlier this year when it bought back fashion chain USC three days after it fell into administration.

Findel’s board argued that Gardener’s inclusion on the board would compromise its independence, and pointed out that Sports Direct is a director competitor to Kitbag.

It said the most “appropriate” way for Sports Direct to gain control of Findel was “to make a fair offer for the whole company”.

Sports Direct had previously proposed that Gardener should become Findel’s new chief executive, but Findel said he was not qualified for this role.

The general meeting is due to be held in Manchester at 11am on December 21.

Sports Direct declined to comment.


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