Shareholders in Sports Direct , Britain's biggest sporting goods retailer, have rejected a proposal that could have netted Mike Ashley, its billionaire founder, a one-off shares bonus worth about 26 million pounds at current prices.
The firm had planned to ask investors at its annual meeting on Wednesday to back the grant of 8 million shares to Ashley, which would vest in 2018 if performance criteria were met.
Ashley holds 71 percent of Sports Direct's equity and is executive deputy chairman. He does not take a salary and generates significant free advertising for the company through his ownership of English Premier League club Newcastle United.
However, although the level of proxy votes in favour of the special resolution exceeded 60 percent it did not reach the required 75 percent. Ashley was not allowed to vote his holding.
The board, therefore, decided to withdraw the resolution from the meeting.
"As a board, we are very disappointed that this resolution was not passed, however we respect shareholders' views," said Dave Singleton, non-executive director and chairman of the remuneration committee.
He said a new scheme with further performance criteria would be proposed to shareholders at a future meeting.
Earlier this year the so-called 'shareholder spring' saw investors resist big pay rises at underperforming companies.
The phenomenon led to the departures of Aviva boss Andrew Moss and Sly Bailey, head of newspaper group Trinity Mirror .
The news on the Sports Direct proposal came on the same day the firm posted a 25 percent jump in first-quarter sales.
Shares in the firm closed up 3.2 percent at 324.1 pence, valuing the business at 1.92 billion pounds.
(Reporting by James Davey; editing by Paul Sandle)