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TMCNet:  Agenda Cash, chairs and Keystone: BY SIMON GOODLEY: MAKING THE NEWS: Ashley's on a high, but what is the board on?

[July 12, 2014]

Agenda Cash, chairs and Keystone: BY SIMON GOODLEY: MAKING THE NEWS: Ashley's on a high, but what is the board on?

(Observer (UK) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) As the UK's former drugs tsar, Keith Hellawell knows a lot about addiction. He took a hard line on hard drugs and, despite being more lenient on cannabis, he resigned when the drug was reclassified as less dangerous.


Still, his views on billionaires who might be addicted to trousering ever-expanding pots of wealth look more benign, at least judging from his tenure as chairman of Sports Direct.

After three failed efforts by the retailer to satisfy the cravings of founder and largest shareholder Mike Ashley for more shares, Hellawell and his board have finally succeeded in finding a way to give the boss his fix. Earlier this month they pushed through a controversial multimillion-pound bonus scheme - plenty of which will accrue to Ashley, though others will benefit - despite fierce opposition from shareholder lobby groups.

We may get a few clues this week about how the firm is limbering up for the start of this scheme - which will kick off next May - when the retailer reports full-year results. Analysts at Jefferies reckon the company and its other shareholders can move on - even though the firm could have chosen to pay all shareholders a dividend. It has never been explained why a plan to hand a few more shares to a man with a 64% stake will be motivational. Sometimes you do wonder what these chaps have been smoking.

Captions: Sports Direct: who needs dividends? (c) 2014 Guardian Newspapers Limited.

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