After repeated clashes over potential handouts of shares to Ashley, who controls 58% of
The ABI has been facilitating discussions for investors holding about 18% of the shares in
Investors are thought to have been stunned by the latest proposal as it was announced shortly after they met Hellawell following the hiatus in April when a previous bonus scheme for Ashley, who is executive deputy chairman, had to be withdrawn. Investors regarded that as the third attempt to pay Ashley in shares after the first attempt failed to win the backing of investors in
The latest proposed deal for Ashley differs to those in the past because it has been linked into payouts for staff at
But shareholders believe it is not clear how many of the 25m shares could be allotted to Ashley nor how many staff could be part of the arrangement. The company has about 3,000 full-time staff and an estimated 20,000 more on zero-hours contracts.
Since a previous bonus scheme was withdrawn in April, annual profits targets have been added to the share awards and the timescale of the payouts lengthened from two years to four.
The company declined to comment yesterday but Hellawell said when the deal was announced in April that the company had responded to shareholder feedback. "Based on the stretching performance targets established, this scheme has the potential to create a further substantial increase in shareholder value," Hellawell said. Ashley does not take a salary from the business that he founded in 1982 with a single shop.
"It remains unclear to our members why the board considers that this latest proposal is sufficiently more appropriate and, in the interests of minority shareholders, more appropriate than those proposed and withdrawn previously. As such, our members hope that the company withdraws this resolution," said Pomroy.
In the past,
But Pomroy said: "Our members are concerned about the significant lack of detail being provided about the arrangements of this scheme and the absence of substantive consultation with shareholders is particularly frustrating. As a public company, it is imperative that the whole board begins to recognise the obligations it has and, in turn, endeavours to better engage with and listen to its investors."
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