Corporate Governance

Corporate Governance News

This section on Corporate Governance provides investors with the latest topical news plus some informal comments and insights from ShareSoc’s directors and other contributors.

Insurance companies and Kentz

With the attack by the Government on annuities in the budget and the revelation that the FCA is to look into the treatment of some policyholders such as those in "closed" funds, both investors in these companies and their directors must be somewhat incensed. Indeed the Financial Times reported this morning that half a dozen of the City's top institutional investors have consulted a leading law firm over alleged "market abuse" in the way the latter review was disclosed. It seems ...

Remuneration Policies and Baronsmead VCT 3

The new Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act requires public companies to take a vote on Remuneration Policy, i.e. a forwarded looking binding vote for the next three years, as opposed to the non-binding retrospective one on the Remuneration Report with which we are all familiar. The latter will still be present, and investors might worry that the former will be a long-winded and tedious document that they will need to plough through (rather like the multi-page Remuneration Reports from large companies). There have ...

Essar Energy and Camkids – spot the connection

Essar Energy (ESSR) is a FTSE-250 Indian oil company where minority shareholders are none too happy about a proposal from the majority owners (the Ruia family) to make a bid for the company at 70p. It floated at 420p in 2010 on the London Stock Exchange and joined the FTSE-100, but it has shown substantial losses in the last two years. Standard Life has described the move as "cynical opportunism" and seem to believe that the offer undervalues the future prospects ...

Barclays – Who benefits?

Barclays Bank announced their final results yesterday. The results did not match expectations and the shares fell 4% on the day. The national media led with the story that the company had still increased the bonus pool even so, and that the company now pays out more in bonuses than it pays in dividends to shareholders. The CEO, Antony Jenkins,  gave the usual excuse for the high pay levels - that they need to compete on the international scene for top class ...

Who runs investment trusts?

Investment trusts are of course normal public companies, with a board of directors who are responsible to shareholders. Or to quote from a good article on these long established and low cost investment funds by Ian Cowie in the latest Aberdeen newsletter: "Unlike unit trusts, every investment trust has a board of directors whose duty is to represent the interests of investors rather than any fund management company. Investment trust directors can - and occasionally do - sack fund managers who ...

Eurofinuse adopts manifesto

Eurofinuse, a representative body for European shareholder organisations of which ShareSoc is a Member, has adopted a "Better Finance Manifesto". They are launching this before the European Parliament elections in May to try and influence politicians to adopt policies to protect savers and investors over the coming years.Although some of the manifesto policies are focussed on problems in other countries in Europe than the UK, there are many meritorious aspects. Here's just a few of the issues they cover:1. That there ...

Hargreaves Lansdown doubles charges for some investors

On the 15th January Hargreaves Lansdown (HL) announced new charges on its investment platform, which is one of the most widely used by private investors. The changes are no doubt provoked by the new rules whereby funds can no longer pass part of their charges back to HL, as a result of the RDR (Retail Distribution Review). But the changes will mean that the annual fees paid to HL by some investors will double. ShareSoc has issued a press release explaining ...

Fiduciary Duty Consultation – no major changes proposed

The Law Commission is running a public consultation on the "Fiduciary Duties of Investment Intermediaries". This was prompted by a recommendation in the Kay Review that examined the issue of "short-termism" in business and investment decisions. It suggested that this area should be examined. One question posed was whether the legal concept of "fiduciary duty" should be extended so that investment intermediaries had clearer moral responsibilities to their clients.For example, trustees of pension funds have a general legal obligation to act ...

Whitewash at British Smaller Companies VCT

British Smaller Companies VCT has called a General Meeting to approve resolutions to rectify past accounting errors that resulted in technically illegal payments of dividends and share buy-backs back in 2006-2008. In essence the company did not have the reserves required. So these "whitewash" resolutions as they are called ask shareholders to waive any claims against the directors for these errors, and claims against shareholders who received the dividends when they should not have. This follows similar whitewash resolutions that were ...

Collective Engagement – a new “City Club” for institutions?

The Kay Review advocated the setting up of a mechanism whereby institutional investors could engage better with public companies. This was seen as a way to improve understanding between investors and companies, to encourage more long-term thinking, to enable debate on strategic options and to tackle such problems as excessive pay.A first step has been the setting up of a "Collective Engagement Working Group" under the Chairmanship of James Anderson of Baillie Gifford. It has produced a report on how such ...