Mike Ash­ley at­tacks in­vestors

The Scotsman - - Business - By RAVENDER SEMBHY

Sports Direct boss Mike Ash­ley has launched an as­sault on mi­nor­ity share­hold­ers in the re­tailer, ac­cus­ing them of stab­bing him in the back over the de­par­ture of chair­man Keith Hellawell.

The re­tail ty­coon ac­cused in­vestors of “re­peat­edly hound­ing”hellawell,who­quit Sports Direct on Wed­nes­day fol­low­ing an­other sham­bolic an­nual meet­ing.

Sug­gest­ing that he will re­ject fu­ture share­holder en­gage­ment, Ash­ley said: “De­spite the sub­stan­tial progress made over the last few years, the share­hold­ers have now made it ex­tremely chal­leng­ing for fu­ture en­gage­ment to take place.

“On the one hand they are de­lighted with our per­for­mance and progress, yet with the other hand they have stabbed Sports Direct and my­self in the back by re­peat­edly hound­ing Keith Hellawell.”

The bil­lion­aire, who also owns New­cas­tle United, holds 62 per cent of Sports Direct shares, with in­de­pen­dent in­vestors mak­ing up the re­main­der.

Many of them have been vo­cal about cor­po­rate gov­er­nance fail­ings at the re­tailer, and their crit­i­cism has lately honed in on Hellawell. The former West Yorkshire Po­lice chief con­sta­ble has come un­der fire for not be­ing able to rein in Ash­ley. As well as al­le­ga­tions of poor work­ing con­di­tions at the re­tailer’s ware­houses, Sports Direct has handed mil­lions to Ash­ley’s daugh­ter’s boyfriend for his role as a prop­erty con­sul­tant.

But Ash­ley said: “I have gone above and be­yond to en­able a sig­nif­i­cant leap for­ward in or­der to re­build the rep­u­ta­tion of Sports Direct in the City, and I have worked tire­lessly with Keith Hellawell in his role as chair­man to achieve this.

“De­spite this progress and the un­doubted good per­for­mance of Sports Direct led by Keith Hellawell and my­self, the com­pany’s share­hold­ers ap­pear to be af­fected by the pres­sure of the me­dia and cer­tain other or­gan­i­sa­tions.”

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