On behalf of its clients, SLI own 34 million shares in Sports Direct representing 5.8% of the company.
Head of stewardship and environmental, social and governance investment at SLI Euan Stirling delivered a strong rebuke of the executive team’s running of the company.
“We are longstanding shareholders in the company and have engaged with senior executives and non-executives over many years, sadly to little effect” said Stirling. “The responses to our enquiries have been either unconvincing or non-existent. In that context, yesterday’s RPC report into working practices represents a positive step forward.”
Stirling noted that SLI appreciates ‘the scale and the market position of the business’ and its potential for growth, therefore it remains a ‘fully-engaged’ shareholder intent of promoting change.
“In order to achieve that potential, we increasingly believe that a structural change in the way that the company is governed is now required,” Stirling explained.
SLI also called for majority owner Mike Ashley to reconfigure his role to one with a title and responsibilities that ‘reflect his influence as majority shareholder and founder of the business’ and for new executives to come in, including a new chairman.
SLI’s intervention follows similar comments made by Royal London Asset Management yesterday.
The Edinburgh-based firm reiterated RLAM’s call for an independent report into the company’s policies as it felt the one produced by Sports Direct’s legal team is not sufficient.