Major investors have divested their holdings in Sports Direct, as the retailer continues to battle to convince the markets that it has improved its governance.
Standard Life has sold its 5.8% holding in Sports Direct, while Aviva told Board Agenda that it had “significantly reduced” its stake.
Sports Direct has been blighted with governance issues, from reports of poor working conditions, the departures of a number of senior executives, to the power still wielded by majority stakeholder Mike Ashley.
There is also uncertainty over the future of chairman Keith Hellawell, who had previously said he would step down if minority shareholders fail to back his re-election in January. The vote went against him but was persuaded to stay following support from Ashley. Sports Direct’s AGM takes place on 6 September.
A “360 review” of working practices and governance was launched in January 2017 by lawyers from Reynolds Porter Chamberlain (RPC). A board evaluation was also undertaken by NJMD Corporate Services.
Sports Direct’s annual report, released this week, stated that “a number of existing practices have been strengthened and new practices have been introduced which have benefitted our people and the company”. The board has evaluated that it complies with the UK Corporate Governance Code.
A new CFO was announced last month: Jon Kempster, a long-serving finance professional with PLC board experience, including terms at Wincanton and Delta, who will take the reins from 11 September.