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Sports Direct shareholders approve Mike Ashley directorship

Sky News logo Sky News 11/09/2019 Wale Azeez, business reporter

Mike Ashley wearing a suit and tie standing in front of a building: Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley outside the company's AGM in London © Ooyala - Sky News UK Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley outside the company's AGM in London Shareholders in Mike Ashley's Sports Direct International retail empire have voted overwhelmingly in favour of his re-election as a director of the company.

The company said that 90.99% of votes cast at the annual general meeting (AGM) on Wednesday were for his continued directorship, while the remaining 9% voted against.

Also at the AGM, 99.8% of votes were cast in favour of approving the company's audited accounts for the year.

Mr Ashley owns about 62% of the high street giant.

In the last 15 months, Mr Ashley has presided over Sport Direct's own high street shopping spree, in which it has taken over a number of retail chains including House of Fraser, Evans Cycles, Game Digital, Sofa.com and, most recently, Jack Wills.

Sky News reported on Monday of Mr Ashley's intention to buy struggling jewellery chain Links of London, and is currently one of two final bidders for the company.

Ahead of the AGM, Sky News also learned that Sports Direct is currently appealing with the "big four" accountants to pitch for the retail group's audit contract, after warning that a smaller firm would be unable to perform the role.

The retail group has in the last fortnight asked the profession's dominant firms - Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) - to hold fresh talks, with the hope that one of them will take on the contract.

Following the AGM, a Sports Direct spokesperson said: "We remain totally focused on delivering our elevated proposition which following the AGM continues to be supported by the investor community.

"We are already seeing some exciting milestones with the acquisition of Jack Wills, the opening of the new Flannels flagship store in London and plans for Frasers now in motion.

"We are building a young and dynamic executive team to assist in this transition but making sure we retain the core values in the existing business that have allowed the business to prosper over the years."

Mr Ashley's re-election as chief executive follows some troubled times for Sports Direct.

In July, the retailer said it faced a €674m (£605m) tax demand from Belgian authorities just as its boss was lamenting that problems at House of Fraser were "terminal".

Mr Ashley warned of more store closures at the chain he acquired last summer in a £90m cash deal, expressing apparent regret for buying it, as Sports Direct published its much-delayed full-year financial results.

He added that the acquisition of House of Fraser had "led to significant uncertainty as to the future profitability of the group as a whole".

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