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Sports Direct bonus plan approved

A controversial bonus scheme for Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley has got the green light, despite a large protest vote from shareholders.

The plan, which has the potential to grant 25 million shares, worth around £180m, to 3,000 employees, including Mr Ashley, came under fire from investor lobby groups as well as the Institute of Directors.

Just over 60% of the shareholders eligible to vote backed the plan, ending a two-year bid by the company to secure a scheme for its deputy chairman.

In April, the company pulled a proposal that could have awarded Mr Ashley more than £70m based on targets for this year and 2015. The business initially tried to hand Mr Ashley a bonus in September 2012, but again failed to win enough investor support.

Mr Ashley, who is owner of Newcastle Football Club, has not received a salary or bonus since the retailer floated in 2007, although he netted £929m in the flotation and has since banked hundreds of millions of pounds selling shares in the business. He owns 58% but was not able to vote yesterday.

Shareholder lobby groups criticised the proposals, particularly as the allocation of shares to Mr Ashley has not been disclosed.

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