September 11, 2019 / 1:38 PM / 4 days ago

Sports Direct's Ashley re-elected to board despite protest

FILE PHOTO: Mike Ashley, founder and majority shareholder of sportwear retailer Sports Direct, stands between shelves of stock during a factory tour after the company's AGM, at the company's headquarters in Shirebrook, Britain, September 7, 2016. REUTERS/Darren Staples/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Mike Ashley, the founder and chief executive of Sports Direct International (SPD.L), was re-elected to the British sporting goods retailer’s board on Wednesday, though nearly a quarter of independent shareholders voted against him.

Several shareholder advisory groups had urged investors to vote against Ashley’s re-election at its annual general meeting after Sports Direct lurched from one crisis to another over the last year.

Ashley owns 62.7% of the company, according to Refinitiv data, making his re-election inevitable.

A stock exchange filing showed he received the support of 90.99% of votes cast at the firm’s meeting in central London, with 9.01% against. But that meant just under a quarter of votes cast by independent shareholders were against him.

In April, Sports Direct failed to prevent department store chain Debenhams from falling into administration and saw its equity stake wiped out.

In July, the group warned it could face a 674 million euro bill from Belgium’s tax authority and said last year’s purchase of department store group House of Fraser out of administration may have been a mistake.

Sports Direct’s auditor Grant Thornton has also quit and the retailer is struggling to find a successor.

Ashley barred media from attending the meeting.

Reporting by James Davey; editing by Costas Pitas

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