Future son-in-law of retail tycoon Mike Ashley set to scoop nearly £21m in fees before he takes over at Frasers Group
The future son-in-law of retail tycoon Mike Ashley is set to scoop nearly £21m in fees before he takes over at Frasers Group.
Michael Murray, who is engaged to Ashley’s daughter Anna, will become chief executive of the retail empire – which owns Sports Direct, House of Fraser and Evans Cycles – at the beginning of next month after the tycoon steps down.
As part of the transition, MM Prop Consultancy, a firm owned by Murray that has provided services to Frasers, will receive £20.9m to terminate any agreements between the two companies and avoid a conflict of interest.
Jackpot: Michael Murray is marrying Mike Ashley’s daughter Anna
But the multi-million-pound payment is likely to raise further questions after Ashley picked Murray to succeed him in the top job at Frasers. Last September Ashley, 57, who owns a controlling stake in the retail giant, forced through plans to hand Murray a bonus worth up to £100m if the company’s share price hits £15 for 30 consecutive trading days in the next four years.
The deal sparked a fierce backlash from independent shareholders, over 49 per cent of whom voted against the scheme at the firm’s 2021 AGM.
Ashley’s holding of around 62 per cent meant the motion passed, but the rebellion reignited criticism that the billionaire was trying to run the company as a personal fiefdom. Murray, 32, will become one of the youngest bosses in the FTSE250 when he takes over next month. He does not sit as an executive on the Frasers board. =
He has been credited with driving a strategy to win over younger shoppers, re-build relationships with big brands such as Nike and Adidas, and improve the company’s stores.
But his early years at the company were also riddled with controversy as he was paid nearly £18m as a consultant over six years while his mother Nicola netted £100,000 for ‘design work’.