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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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Shell & BG Group Deal – Not Everyone’s Happy

(Pay packages and short termism at BG Group and Amec Foster Wheeler) Shareholders in BG Group should surely be happy. The offer from Shell values their shares at about £13.50 per share which is a premium of 50% to that which they have recently been trading. Although investors will get most of the value in Shell shares which means they will still be holding shares in the depressed oil and gas sector. An indication that perhaps not all investors are happy is ...

Changes to Pre-Emption Rights Principles

The FCA have issued a note from the Pre-Emption Group giving some revised "principles" to be followed by public companies. As the note says "Pre-emption rights are a cornerstone of UK company law and provide shareholders with protection against dilution of their investments".  In general UK companies cannot issue more shares without the approval of shareholders, which is why on most Annual General Meeting agendas you see two linked resolutions that permit allotment of new shares and a partial disapplication of ...

John Lee, WPP and Optimal Payments

As usual there was a thought provoking article by John Lee in the FT Money edition on Saturday (4/4/2015). He discusses the "one that got away" in his past investment history, which was a small company called Wire and Plastic Products. He invested £9,000 in 1984 in this manufacturer of supermarket trolleys but sold his shares for £25,000 when an unknown person named Martin Sorrell bought a large stake and the shares rocketed. It went on to become WPP (market cap ...

An Analysis of the Alliance Trust Defence

ShareSoc has now issued a fuller analysis of the case for change at Alliance Trust, and the defence notes issues by Alliance Trust. It is present in this document on our web site: https://www.sharesoc.org/ShareSoc_Alliance_Trust_Analysis.pdf This is what is said in the conclusion of that document:  We think it was perfectly reasonable for Elliott Advisors to take up their worries with Alliance and propose directors if they considered the issues they have raised were not being dealt with. Requisitioning resolutions is simple democracy upon ...

FCA Criticised in Parliament

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has been severely criticised today (27/3/2015) in a report issued by the Treasury Select Committee. Here are a few things they say in their overall conclusions about the events surrounding the press briefing on the Government's planned review of the life insurance market, which caused share prices in some companies to drop sharply. "The events of 27 and 28 March.....revealed multiple flaws in the FCA's processes and practices. These failings went right to the top of the ...

ShareSoc Comments on the Proposals for Alliance Trust

PRESS RELEASE 64 (24/3/2015) ShareSoc makes the following comments on the requisition to appoint three new non-executive directors to the board of Alliance Trust by Elliott Advisors. We do this from the stance of an independent not-for-profit organisation whose objective is to represent the interests of private shareholders.  Many of our members have an interest in investment trusts which generally provide a low cost and diversified way of investing in the stock market. But the issues that have arisen at this Trust such ...

April 2015 Investor Masterclass – Don’t miss it!

In the light of the popularity of ShareSoc's Investor Masterclass series, we are pleased to announce the next Masterclass, to take place from 3:30pm to 6:30pm on the 23rd April. It forms part of the two-day Mello Workshops investor education event, being held in Peterborough (only 45 minutes from London). Our Masterclasses are designed to offer an entertaining and educational experience for investors. Our panel comprises: David Stredder, Paul Scott, Ed Croft of Stockopedia and one other to be announced. You will find ...

Alliance Trust – ShareSoc Press Release

ShareSoc has issued the following press release after talking to both representatives of Alliance Trust and Elliott Advisors. If you have any views on this matter please let us know, and we would particularly like to hear from any holders of Alliance Trust shares (for publication or privately if you prefer). This is one company where private shareholders are in the majority but it will be interesting to see how many can and do vote. It may prove an interesting example of how ...

The Chancellors Budget – Gin and Tonics All Round!

For private investors the Chancellor's Budget is mostly good, and we can all drink his health in spirits on which the tax is cut. The other good news is as follows: - The personal allowance will rise to £11,000 over two years from which all taxpayers will benefit and the threshold for higher rate income tax will also rise. - There will be a new flexible ISA where you can take money out and then put it back in within the same tax ...

Active Management and Collective Action

An article in yesterday's FT (16/3/2015) on active investment management, versus passive, by Sophia Grene prompted some thoughts on the topic of "public goods". Passive management is where a manager is simply tracking an index whereas active managers are actually making their own investment decisions. Active management typically costs more to the investor, on the premise that more work is required to be put in by the manager, but they argue that it is justified because they can outperform the market. ...
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