SLI takes stand against Sports Direct board

Added 7th September 2016

Standard Life Investments has become the latest asset manager to take a stand against the board of troubled retailer Sports Direct.

SLI takes stand against Sports Direct board

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. 

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Alex Sebastian

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Alex joined Portfolio Adviser in April 2014 and has been a financial journalist since 2008. He has previously held editorial positions at the Financial Times Group and Euromoney Institutional Investor. Alex is NCTJ qualified and has a degree in economics from the University of Sussex.



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