Sports Direct owner's new boss offered potential £100m bonus

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Michael MurrayImage source, Reuters

Mike Ashley's Frasers Group has offered the retail tycoon's future son-in-law a £100m bonus - but only if he can more than double the share price.

The Sports Direct owner has put forward the bonus plan for Michael Murray when he becomes chief executive in May 2022.

However, he will only collect if its share price reaches £15 for 30 trading days in a row before October 2025, up from its current level of about £6.50.

The company described the target as "challenging but achievable".

Mr Murray, 31, engaged to be married to Mr Ashley's daughter Anna, is currently "head of elevation" at Frasers and is in charge of modernising stores and transforming the business.

The board of Frasers Group, which owns Sports Direct and House of Fraser, said it had also recommended £1m a year salary for Mr Murray.

Shareholders are set to vote on the proposed bonus scheme at the group's annual general meeting on 29 September.

Mr Ashley is due to step down as chief executive when Mr Murray takes over, but will remain on the board as an executive director.

Mr Ashley founded Sports Direct in 1982 and retains 64% of the group.

The company listed its shares on the stock exchange in 2007, with shares priced at 300p. Prices surged to more than 900p in early 2014.

Worries over corporate governance and working conditions, as well as the impact of Covid on retailers, have since hit the share price.

The group was renamed Frasers in December 2019, following its takeover of House of Fraser, but stores retained the Sports Direct brand.

Sports Direct promised in 2016 to end zero-hours contracts and offer its workers guaranteed hours, but unions have since accused the company of breaking that pledge.

The firm has attracted criticism for continuing to recruit workers on zero-hours contracts during the pandemic.

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Mike Ashley will remain on the Frasers Group board after stepping down as chief executive

"The board believes that the significant increase in value of the shares to be achieved before Michael's share option award vests is suitably challenging but achievable and would be evidence of the success of the group's elevation strategy and Michael's leading role in this," the company said.

Mr Murray has been working for the group for several years, but his role at the company raised eyebrows after reports about him being paid millions of pounds in consultancy fees.

Mr Ashley was previously executive deputy chairman of the retail group - which changed its name from Sports Direct International to Frasers Group two years ago - until 2016, when long-serving chief executive Dave Forsey resigned.

Mr Ashley, 56, has been one of the High Street's most prominent and colourful figures since founding his business.