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Sports Direct shareholders approve Mike Ashley bonus scheme

Sports Direct’s shareholders have voted to approve the latest bonus scheme for founder Mike Ashley and his team at an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) held this morning.

The new scheme will reward Ashley and a unknown number of other employees of the company some 25m shares worth £200m. The positive vote came despite widespread speculation that the motion would be rejected.

The vote was carried by 60.4% of votes in favour and 39.6% against. Ashley, who has a 58% stake in the sports giant, was not allowed to vote.

Sports Direct non-executive chairman Keith Hellawell thanked shareholders for “their support and participation”.

“The success of the scheme is demonstrated by the substantial shareholder value created over the last five years,” he added.

This is the third time the company has attempted to find a way to remunerate Ashley, after two previous efforts failed. It was widely expected that this scheme would also be rejected after a number of shareholders publicly spoke out about it.

However Hellawall said the board and remuneration committee had “responded to the feedback received from shareholders” to create a scheme that would be approved.

It is not yet known how much Ashley stands to gain through the scheme, which also rewards an undisclosed number of Sports Direct staff.

The retailer’s remuneration committee, chaired by Hellawell, will decide the allocation at a later date. It is understood that Ashley, his executive team and all full-time staff eligible for the bonus scheme will be rewarded shares based on various criteria including seniority.

“Today’s vote in favour of the resolution will ensure that the group continues to retain and motivate its hard-working employees,” Hellawell said. “The resolution today also recognises the substantial contribution made by Mike Ashley over many years and, as demonstrated by the previous schemes, has the potential to create a further significant increase in shareholder value.”

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