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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ShareSoc Welcomes BG Group Decision but calls on Sir John Hood to Resign

ShareSoc is delighted by today’s news that BG Group has decided to withdraw the conditional share award that was proposed for new CEO Helge Lund. This is a good illustration of active shareholders being able to influence corporate policy and restrain abuses. However, today’s announcement, including acceptance by Mr Lund of the revised terms, clearly demonstrates that the original proposal was excessive and unwarranted. It is obvious that insufficient consultation with shareholders had been conducted before the proposed package was announced, as ...

Bradford & Bingley & Northern Rock Bond Tenders

Bradford & Bingley Plc have announced a new tender offer for the subordinated bonds. These are what were formerly called PIBS which were issued before the company converted to a bank. These bonds remained outstanding when the company was nationalised in 2008 and have continued to be listed and tradable. But the previous tender offers were not considered very generous, although the market price has been slowly recovering on the expectation that the mortgage assets of the company would exceed its ...

Tesco Legal Action – or should we just “put our hands up”?

Law firm Stewarts Law has announced that it is preparing a case against Tesco based on the losses of investors in the company from the overstatement of profits. To quote from their announcement: "The Claim will allege that directors and senior management knew or were reckless as to whether Tesco's statements to the market were untrue or misleading and/or dishonestly concealed the true position, in breach of the Financial Services and Markets Act". They don't intend to await the results of ...

ShareSoc Deplores Excessive Pay for BG Group CEO

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: 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, ...
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