BLANCCO (BLTG)

We have closed this campaign as at 12 May 2022. The campaign achieved one objective of a fine of the auditors KPMG. However the derisory amount £3,500 plus costs of £2,743 questions whether the scale of the offence was fully recognised/punished by the regulator, the ICAEU.

At the December 2020 Blancco AGM, the Chairman, Rob Woodward said that:

  • The FCA had posed a number of questions to the Company
  • The Company had answered those questions
  • The Company was never advised that the FCA were to undertake a formal investigation
  • From the Company’s viewpoint, the matter was closed.

Woodward’s comments were in response to a question from ShareSoc Blanco Campaign Leader Bruce Noble.

We are disappointed at this failure of the regulator the FCA to report back to the complainant on the issues we raised in our 8 January 2018 letter. The issues included a potentially false market in the shares, the cashing in of Stock Appreciation Rights by the then CEO before the disclosure of the incorrect accounts, the inaccurate audit by KPMG, and the appointment of PwC as replacement auditors, when the Chairman of the Audit Committee was a former partner there and did not recuse himself from the decision.

Bruce Noble received a letter from Charles Randell, Chair of FCA, dated 3 October 2018 (9 months after our initial complaint to them), which included the comment: “I can assure you that work is being carried out on this matter and our markets team is looking carefully at the issues raised in relation to Blancco Technology Group plc.” Since then, Bruce has written further letters to Charles Randell, on behalf of ShareSoc, on 18 November 2019 and 3 August 2020, following up to ask for progress on the FCA’s action. There has been no reply to either letter.

To the best of our knowledge, ShareSoc has heard nothing on the subject from the FCA. Clearly, we have been kicked into the long grass.

ShareSoc is most grateful to Bruce Noble for the diligent, hard work he has put into this campaign and wishes to extend its thanks to him and is sure other ShareSoc members will echo these sentiments.

For the record below is the background to this campaign.

Introduction

Are you a shareholder in Blancco Technology Group plc (BLTG), listed on the AIM market? Or did you cease to be a shareholder in the company during 2017? If so, we would like to hear from you.

ShareSoc is launching a campaign to have Blancco investigated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Financial Reporting Council (FRC). We have highlighted issues concerning the restatement of 2016 accounts that increased the previously reported loss by £1.5 million and the reversal of two contracts worth £2.9 million booked in June 2017. These financial irregularities have contributed to a significant reduction in shareholder value. We are also asking the two regulators to look at awards to the then CEO, the conduct of executives, the Board, auditors and the Audit Committee and the absence of action by the Board to seek redress for shareholders.

If you would like to join our campaign, we will be pleased to forward you copies of our submission to FCA and FRC. We will also welcome your observations about the Company and your experiences as a shareholder. You can contact us with your experiences here: contact us

Bruce Noble – Blancco Campaign Co-ordinator

Updates

Update 1 – progress as at 22/2/2018 – responses from the FRC and FCA and next actions can be downloaded here: Blancco Update 1 – website

Update 2 – 10/11/2018 – We have received a response from the FRC to my January 8 2018 letter. After consulting directors of ShareSoc, I have replied.

Shareholders will have received the June 2018 Report and Accounts and the invitation to the AGM on December 12. My personal feeling is that it appears that the Chairman has done a good job in recruiting a new CEO and a new CFO, both of whom seem to have relevant experience. Early indications are positive, but time will tell. I am amazed that Frank Blin is standing for re-election to the board. He is the non-executive director who chaired the audit committee at the time of the flawed accounts until now and did not recuse himself from the committee’s decision to appoint PwC as the new auditors, despite having spent his career with them. I intend to speak and vote against this proposal at the AGM, even though his re-election will have been buttoned up by institutional votes.

Update 3 – 17/11/2019 – Update following publication of results: https://www.sharesoc.org/blog/blancco-campaign-update-3/

Update 4 – 02/08/2020 – KPMG fined: https://www.sharesoc.org/blog/company-news/blancco-campaign-update-4/

Join the Campaign

If you wish to be kept informed of developments, please register your interest in the Blancco Shareholders Group by completing the form below.

If you are not yet a full member of ShareSoc, you can subscribe here: Full Membership

For more information on ShareSoc, go here: About

If you wish to make a voluntary contribution to support the costs of running this campaign please go to this page of our web site: Donations.

Alternatively, we do recommend a paid subscription to ShareSoc which gives you many other benefits.

Please use the form below to register your interest in this campaign (you will receive confirmation by return within 48 hours). You will be given free Associate Membership of ShareSoc unless you opt not to receive it, if you are not already a Member.