September 14, 2018 / 11:57 AM / a year ago

Sports Direct's Ashley says "stabbed in the back" by shareholders

LONDON, Sept 14 (Reuters) - Mike Ashley, the founder and majority owner of British sportswear retailer Sports Direct , said he had been “stabbed in the back” by shareholders, warning that future engagement with them would be “extremely challenging”.

In a statement, issued to the London Stock Exchange, Ashley who owns 61 percent of Sports Direct’s equity and is the firm’s chief executive, criticised shareholders for failing to support the board.

At Wednesday’s annual shareholders meeting the re-election of Ashley was opposed by 9.78 percent of votes cast, while chairman Keith Hellawell stepped-down just ahead of the meeting.

Their re-election had been opposed by three shareholder advisory groups.

“The company’s shareholders appear to be affected by the pressure of the media and certain other organisations, and they have failed to support Sports Direct, Keith and myself, on this journey,” Ashley said.

He added that it was “blatantly apparent that true entrepreneurs will never be accepted in the public arena”. (Reporting by James Davey, Editing by Paul Sandle)

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