Corporate Stewardship

Retail Shareholder Participation in Voting – US study

Cliff Weight, ShareSoc Director reviews Retail Shareholder Participation in the Proxy Process: Monitoring, Engagement, and Voting: Working Paper N° 637/2019 November 2019: By Alon Brav, Matthew D. Cain, Jonathon Zytnick This is a US study on US retail shareholders. Those with a statistical bent and a love of algebra will find the study fascinating and enjoyable. Others may find it less so! However, it does have important conclusions, which I summarise below. I think we can extrapolate that these conclusions probably also apply to ...

GB Group, Patisserie Holdings, FRC Stewardship Code and Halma

The stock market seems to be in limbo as business waits to see the outcome of Brexit politics. In my portfolio, small cap companies are drifting down and even large funds and trusts have been declining. Is this due to currency effects or the realisation that “star” fund managers such as Neil Woodford cannot be relied upon? Others are just bouncing around. However there was one exception yesterday when GB Group (GBG) jumped 14% after a positive trading statement. That company ...

Woodford Equity Income Fund Suspension – Analysis and Solutions

The business media is awash with analysis and comment on the closure of the Woodford Equity Income Fund to redemptions – meaning investors cannot take their money out, much to their dismay. I write as an innocent bystander as I have never held any of the Woodford managed funds. But I have not been totally unaffected by the problem of investors taking their money out, which has led to the suspension, because it has resulted in Woodford needing to sell some of ...

PwC Event: Environmental Reporting – 22 May 2019

Those members interested in the environment and its impact on your investing (and vice versa!) may wish to attend this seminar being run by PwC. Environmental Reporting - 22nd May at PwC, 7 More London starting at 3.30 p.m. Following the earlier circular advising you to 'Save the Date', further details are attached below about the PwC event on Environmental Reporting. No one can have failed to notice that in recent months environmental issues have been in the news. This promises to be ...

Invitation to Meet with Royal Mail, April 8th 15.30pm

Following the Royal Mail's AGM in 2018, at which 70% of shareholders rejected the Director's Remuneration Report, the Royal Mail are embarking on a series of consultative meetings with major shareholders and shareholders' representatives to discuss their concerns. Such a meeting has been called specifically for representatives of UK Shareholders Association and ShareSoc and will be held at the Royal Mail's premises at Victoria Embankment London on April 8th and attended by Orna Ni-Chionna, NED and Chair of the Remuneration Committee; Julia ...

Interserve Administration: I am very angry!

I attended Interserve's General Meeting today and I am... ...angry with major shareholders, who didn't hold the board to account and couldn't be bothered to speak or vote today. ...angry with former board members who, in my opinion, did not properly exercise their corporate governance responsibilities. ...and angry with former executives who drove the Interserve ship onto the rocks... and were still well-rewarded. In short, a massive failure of corporate governance and corporate stewardship. Those responsible should hang their heads in shame. Government should consider ...

Inconvenient AGM at Phoenix, Changes to “Going Concern” and GoCompare

I have been advised that life insurance and pension consolidator Phoenix Group (PHNX), a FTSE 250 company, is holding this year’s AGM in Edinburgh at 9.00 am. That’s a damn inconvenient time and location for most investors. Previous general meetings have been held in London where their registered office is located, although I am told that only one director and no shareholders turned up for the 2018 AGM. This is the explanation given by the company for the latest venue in the ...

Stewardship Should Reflect Views of Beneficial Owners

We, ShareSoc, think that individual investors have been disenfranchised by the nominee system and by the difficulties in getting timely copies of Annual Reports, AGM notices and voting forms. It is estimated only 6% of individual investors shares get voted, which is a disgrace. What is needed is a neat, easy to use system that makes it ultra quick and easy to vote your shares. Individuals who invest in funds have little or no control over how the shares in their funds ...

Meeting with Link Asset Services

I recently attended a meeting with Link Asset Services who claim to be the largest UK share registrar. In addition to me there were two senior managers from Link and two ShareSoc directors (Mark Northway and Mark Bentley). ShareSoc and I do of course have a long-standing interest in ensuring shareholders can and do vote their shares at General Meetings. Other matters discussed were the problems created by nominee accounts, in the Shareholder Rights Directive (SRD), in the Central Securities Deposit ...

Royal Mail Remuneration

I always thought that being a Chief Executive and being paid millions was a 24/7 job. I am amazed the Royal Mail could not recruit somebody from the millions of people who live in the UK. I am very angry that the details of Mr Back's £5.8million payout were buried in note 26 on page 144 of the company's annual report and not explained in the first paragraph of the Remuneration Committee Chair's statement. Hiding the pay of the new Chief ...