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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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BG Group EGM on pay award to new CEO

BG Group - A personal view by ShareSoc director, Mark Bentley BG Group will be holding an EGM on 15th December to consider a resolution to approve a “Conditional Share Award” for newly appointed CEO Helge Lund. Details can be found here: http://www.bg-group.com/assets/files/cms/2014Meeting_ShareholderCircular.pdf Mr Lund’s appointment was announced on 15 October 2014, taking effect from 2 March 2015. He has served as CEO of Statoil, the Norwegian oil and gas company, since August 2004. Prior to Statoil, Mr Lund was the CEO of ...

British Empire – moving the goalposts?

Last year ShareSoc published an extensive report on the Annual General Meeting of British Empire Securities and General Trust. This is a long established investment trust which in the long term has achieved good performance figures, but in recent years has not been doing so well. Indeed our report suggested shareholders were becoming restless bearing in mind the comments of some investors at the AGM. For example, in the year to the 30th September 2013, the Trust achieved a total return of ...

Alpha Pyrenees Trust

Two years Alpha Pyrenees Trust Ltd, a property company registered in Guernsey but listed on the London Stock Exchange, appeared to be an attractive investment. It seemed a good opportunity to invest in a European commercial property company that could take advantage of the commercial property sector upturn within Europe. The company has a portfolio of industrial properties mainly in France and with a small percentage being located in Spain. In December 2012 the share price was 16p and the Net Asset ...

Optimal Payments, Quindell and equity loans

A major controversy has arisen over the use by directors of loans from companies such as Equities First Holdings (EFH) which are secured against their equity stakes. The latest company to be affected is Optimal Payments (OPAY) who presented at a recent ShareSoc seminar. The share price fell substantially after comments from a well known blogger, and declined as much as 22% on the 14th November after the comments were widely circulated on bulletin boards. A number of other public company directors ...

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 ...
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