November 24, 2017 / 10:12 AM / in a year

Sports Direct investors to vote on 11 mln pound payment to founder's brother

LONDON, Nov 24 (Reuters) - Investors in British retailer Sports Direct will vote on whether to pay 11 million pounds ($14.65 million) to the brother of billionaire founder Mike Ashley - a move that could reignite tensions between shareholders and the board.

Sports Direct said on Friday it would hold a general meeting on Dec. 13 after an independent report by law firm RPC found that John Ashley, who was employed as an IT expert, was entitled to the money for his work in the years since the company floated in 2007.

It said John Ashley had not received what he was owed “because of concerns at the time about public relations”.

Independent shareholders will vote on the resolution to give John Ashley the 11 million pounds ($14.66 million), with board members, including Mike Ashley, abstaining from the vote, the company said in a statement.

“I fully expect that independent shareholders will vote against this proposal due to the passage of time involved, although in my opinion, technically the money is owed and therefore should be paid,” Mike Ashley, who is also chief executive and 61 percent shareholder, said in a statement.

“It’s important for me to say that if John had owed one pound to Sports Direct, I would have ensured any sum was repaid in full.”

The fresh showdown comes after years of clashes between investors and the board.

Chairman Keith Hellawell, accused by investors of a string of management and governance failures, narrowly survived a vote to oust him in September.

He had said he would resign if a majority of independent shareholders voted against him for a third time.

$1 = 0.7508 pounds Reporting by Alistair Smout; editing by Jason Neely

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