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ShareSoc Blog

This blog gives you the latest topical news plus some informal comments on them from ShareSoc’s directors and other contributors. These are the personal comments of the authors and not necessarily the considered views of ShareSoc. The writers may hold shares in the companies mentioned. You can add your own comments on the blog posts, but note that ShareSoc reserves the right to remove or edit comments where they are inappropriate or defamatory.

There is more news given in the News page of our web site and more analysis of news is provided in our monthly newsletter for members – see the Newsletters page.

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Progress on the Kay Review

Back in 2011 the Government commissioned Prof. John Kay to review the operation of UK stock markets. There were concerns about "short-termism" by investors, poor corporate governance in companies, excessive executive pay, lack of engagement by investors with companies, high investment charges and excessive intermediation in the investment chain. The resulting report was a very good analysis of the defects in the way the market operated and the recommendations in the report for change were generally accepted by the Government. The Government ...

Why should nominee operators have rights?

Following a meeting at the BIS Department where I discussed the issues associated with Part 9 of the Companies Act, and our suggestion that all shareholders (including those in nominee accounts) be on the share register of companies, I had some further thoughts on this subject. On reflection it seems very odd to me that nominee operators (i.e. your stockbroker) have the rights endowed by the Companies Act on shareholders. Investors in nominee accounts have no such rights (voting rights, information rights, ...

Shareholder rights – the way forward

The Investors Chronicle published a five page article on Friday (7/11/2014) on the campaign for improved shareholder rights under the title "Take Control". The writer Julia Bradshaw gave a good overview of the position of voting and information rights in the UK in comparison with other countries - yes we are way behind most of them - and the activities of representative shareholder associations. The legal risks of holding shares in nominee accounts and why anyone who understands the intricacies of ...

Legal Action on Lloyds-TSB and HBOS merger

Attention all former Lloyds-TSB shareholders. As former Lloyds-TSB shareholders are no doubt well aware, the merger of Lloyds-TSB with HBOS in January 2009 to form the Lloyds Banking Group was a disaster for shareholders in Lloyds-TSB. Lloyds-TSB was a financially strong bank who historically had paid a high dividend. HBOS was obviously in financial difficulties at the time and needed bailing out. Indeed information that subsequently became public suggest it was in reality about to go bust because of its large exposure ...

FCA launches campaign on investment scams

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) have launched a campaign to warn people about investment scams. They get about 5,000 calls a year from investors about suspected scams and the average investor loses £20,000. The FCA have launched a new web site called Scansmart (see www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart ) which enables you to learn about the warning signs and even provides a menu on which you can check the investment you are considering. The FCA gives the key signs that the investment may be a ...

Glaxo Q3 results – in need of more treatment

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) issued its 3rd Quarter Results today (22 Oct 2014). It's one of those large FTSE-100 stocks that it's difficult to avoid holding if you are a UK stock market investor. It's such a large constituent of the index that all those index funds, and indeed almost all generalist unit or investment trusts, are likely to have a big stake in them. It's also one of those stocks that many people hold directly (as does this writer) simply as a ...

The Vote at Electra Private Equity

Electra Private Equity have fought off an attack from Sherborne Investors Management. The latter wanted a change of directors and for the company to conduct a strategic review, but resolutions to remove three directors were defeated with over 61% of the votes cast against them. The interesting aspect of this event was that over 81% of the votes in issue were actually voted. There was considerable debate last week at the meeting ShareSoc held on shareholder rights about the difficulty of getting ...

Shareholder Rights campaign launched

Last week ShareSoc launched a campaign to improve shareholder rights with a meeting in London. It focussed on the problems associated with nominee accounts and the adopted legal requirement to replace paper share certificates with an electronic system in a few years time. There was an impressive line-up of speakers at the meeting which included John Kay (author of the Kay Review and FT writer), Michael Kempe from Capita representing the ICSA Registrars Group, Peter Swabey from ICSA, John Lee (Lord Lee ...

Directors Pay Up 21%

There can be no clearer indication that the pay of company directors is out of control than the latest figures from Income Data Services (IDS). They have reported that the total remuneration of FTSE-100 company directors went up by 21% last year, based on figures in the annual reports of companies. Although base salaries only rose by 2.5%, the overall increase has been driven by “performance” awards such as bonuses and LTIPs (Long Term Incentive Plans). The 21% increase is of course ...

A Tale of Two Trusts – SLS and BRWM

Yesterday Blackrock World Mining (BRWM) announced they were writing off their investment in London Mining. This was one of their largest holdings and cut the trust's net asset value by almost 8%. The share price promptly fell by 8% on the day and fell further today. Who are London Mining you may ask? This is a small iron ore mining company based in Sierra Leone which has been badly affected by the slump in iron ore prices and the Ebola crisis ...
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