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Sports Direct under renewed pressure over Mike Ashley bonus

Sports Direct’s latest attempt to reward founder Mike Ashley looks set to fail again this week, after three shareholders publicly urged investors to vote against the bonus scheme.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI), the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) and institutional investor Pirc have all openly opposed the scheme, which would gift Ashley and “all eligible” executive members of staff around £200m worth of shares.

The ABI has called on investors to reject the scheme, claiming the package is “not clear, transparent or accountable to shareholders” according to City AM. In particular, there has been a lack of clarity around how many of the 25m shares would go to Ashley.

NAPF has similar concerns. “The absence of substantive consultation with shareholders is particularly frustrating,” the NAPF’s policy lead for corporate governance, Will Pomroy, said.

Sports Direct is holding a shareholder meeting on Wednesday to vote on the scheme, but it could be called off today if the proxy votes suggest there is not enough support.

The retailer has already been forced to scrap two bonus schemes to reward Ashley. In April, a shareholder rebellion forced the company to drop plans for a £73m bonus, while a similar plan was also rejected in 2012.

The current scheme is the first to include other staff, who will miss out if it is rejected.

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