Ashley’s future son-in-law gets £100m bonus target

Mike Ashley

Shirebrook-based Frasers Group plc, formerly called Sports Direct, said on Wednesday it would recommend a bonus scheme for incoming chief executive Michael Murray worth up to £100 million in shares if he meets a “suitably challenging but achievable” target.

Murray is engaged to Ashley’s daughter Anna and currently holds the job title of “head of elevation” in charge of modernising the group’s store estate.

Murray would receive £100 million in stock if Frasers shares achieve a price of £15 for 30 consecutive trading days before before the vesting period ends on October 7, 2025.

Frasers shares currently trade around £6.50.

The Frasers board is recommending at the AGM that Murray be paid a salary of £1 million per year.

Frasers said on August 5 its maverick CEO Mike Ashley plans to step down on May 1 next year and be succeeded as CEO by his 31-year-old future son-in-law.

Ashley, 56, plans to remain on the Frasers board as an executive director, and he retains 64% of the group’s equity. He also owns Newcastle United.

“Within the resolutions to be proposed at the AGM, the board is recommending a new executive share scheme which includes a share option scheme for Michael Murray, should he assume the role of CEO in May 2022 as per the RNS on 5 August 2021,” said Frasers.

“The group would like to give further context of this scheme for Mr. Murray, and his proposed remuneration package generally, in advance of the AGM.

In considering a remuneration package, the remuneration committee was mindful of setting targets that were both stretching and achievable and that would reward an incoming CEO commensurately with the shareholder value that could be attained.

“As a result of those considerations, the proposed share option scheme for Mr. Murray has a target share price of £15 which must be achieved for 30 consecutive trading days before the vesting period ends on 7th October 2025.

“Should the options vest, and the share price on exercise be £15, Michael Murray will be awarded shares to the equivalent value of £100m before tax.

As part of Michael Murray’s reward and remuneration package, should he assume the role of CEO, the board is recommending at the AGM a directors’ remuneration policy that will allow Michael to be paid a salary of £1m per year.

“It should be noted that it is at the discretion of the remuneration committee to deduct the equivalent share value of the gross salary Michael Murray has earned during the vesting period from the share option award.

For the avoidance of doubt, the previous consultancy arrangements between the group and Mr. Murray will cease on his assumption of the CEO role.

“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.”