LONDON, March 11 Sports Direct on
Tuesday outlined plans to hand its founder and deputy chairman
Mike Ashley a share bonus worth around 65 million pounds ($108
million) in recognition of the company's rise to Britain's
biggest sporting goods retailer.
Ashley, who holds a 62 percent stake in the company he
founded in 1982, receives no salary or bonus from Sports Direct
despite being the key figure in the company's success.
The firm said it would put proposals to shareholders at a
meeting on April 4 to grant Ashley 8 million ordinary shares,
worth almost 65 million pounds at Monday's closing share price
of 809 pence.
The shares would vest in July 2018 if performance targets
"The company has already received support from its largest
institutional shareholder, Odey Asset Management, who has
confirmed that it intends to vote in favour of the resolution,"
Sports Direct Chairman Keith Hellawell said.
"The board believes that Mike is one of the outstanding
retailers of his generation and that all shareholders benefit
from his on-going commitment to Sports Direct."
The share award is dependent upon the firm achieving
full-year core earnings of 330 million pounds in 2014 and 410
million pounds in 2015, as well as a net debt/EBITDA ratio of
1.5 times or less at the end of its 2015 fiscal year.
The proposal is the third attempt by Sports Direct's board
to reward its founder. One previous proposal was knocked back by
shareholders due to concerns over the related performance
targets, and another failed to be put to a vote.
The group, which has over 600 sports stores in Europe,
including 400 in the UK, grew rapidly during the economic
downturn on demand for its value offers, supported by a mixture
of acquisitions, expanding online sales and the demise of rivals
like JJB Sports.
The firm's shares, up 88 percent on a year ago, entered
Britain's blue-chip FTSE 100 index in September.