Sports Direct `Stabbed in Back' by Shareholders, Ashley Says

(Bloomberg) -- Billionaire Mike Ashley said he and his Sports Direct International Plc were “stabbed in the back by shareholders” who failed to support former Chairman Keith Hellawell.

Hellawell resigned this week at the company’s annual meeting after proxy firm Glass Lewis accused the board of “poor governance” and urged shareholders to vote against his re-election. The company has long been under fire on issues ranging from labor conditions to its previously all-male board.

“Despite the substantial progress made over the last few years, the shareholders have now made it extremely challenging for future engagement to take place,” Ashley said in a statement Friday. “They have stabbed Sports Direct and myself in the back by repeatedly hounding Keith Hellawell.”

Sports Direct shares have fallen about 16 percent since the company acquired troubled department-store chain House of Fraser in August.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.