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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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National Grid AGM, Rensburg AIM VCT and Stocktrade

I attended the National Grid Annual General Meeting in Birmingham yesterday. Unfortunately, I was not allowed to ask a question as the organisation that I was representing as a proxy put my son's name on it rather than mine so I was only allowed in as a "guest". It was not a particularly exciting event this year. Not a single shareholder complained about the outrageously high pay of the executive directors. The Chairman was both dogmatic and condescending to the mainly ...

VCT/EIS Changes and Rensburg AIM VCT

The Summer Budget announced changes to the qualifying investments for Venture Capital Trusts (VCTs) and EIS investments. Some of changes and their impact were not immediately apparent but have come to light since. The rules will effectively be tightened to keep them focussed on early stage companies. For example for VCTs the investee companies will need to have been trading less than 10 years (or 7 years if they are not "knowledge intensive" businesses) and management buy-outs will be discouraged. The details ...

Foresight 4 “C” Shareholders Object

Shareholders in the "C" fund of Foresight 4 VCT are unhappy with the conversion of their shares to Ordinary shares. These holders are former investors in the Acuity VCTs. They feel the conversion is being done on inequitable terms for the "C" shareholders. Put at its simplest, C shareholders are aggrieved that free and surplus cash in the C fund has not been paid out to them as a dividend before conversion. A large portion of surplus cash within existing C shares ...

The Budget – How Will It Affect Private Investors?

George Osborne announced the Government's Budget yesterday (8/7/2015). These were the main changes that might affect individual investors: - Personal income tax allowance will rise from £10,600 to £11,000 in 2016-17. The Higher Rate Threshold will increase to £42,385 in 2015-16 with further increases in subsequent years. - Dividend taxation will be substantially changed. Dividend tax credits will be abolished and be replaced by a new Dividend Tax Allowance of £5,000 with tax rates on dividend income above that at 7.5% for basic ...

Unhappy Shareholders at Sea Energy, Vislink and Blinkx

Perhaps it was the hot weather, or that folks have more time to spare in the summer holiday season, but shareholders in three smaller companies have been stirred to complain about a variety of issues mainly focussed on pay and overhead costs. Sea Energy Stuart Stafford has formed a Shareholder Action Group for investors in Sea Energy. See this web site for more details and to register an interest: https://seashareholderactiongroup.wordpress.com/2015/07/07/action-group/ His main complaints are about 1) Exorbitant central costs which destroy shareholder value; 2) ...

ShareSoc Site Visit to Xaar plc

I was delighted to join a group of fellow ShareSoc members, including investor and financial journalist Richard Beddard, on a visit to Xaar Plc’s Huntingdon factory, last Tuesday. This was...

Defeating Shareholder Democracy at Alliance Trust et al

The existing shareholding arrangements in public companies, with many investors in nominee accounts, now effectively frustrate shareholder democracy. Alternatively they make it either very difficult in practice, or enormously expensive. Let's look at a couple of examples where ShareSoc has some recent experience of requesting share registers - Alliance Trust and Rensburg AIM VCT. In terms of the size of the company and numbers of shareholders Alliance Trust is one of the larger public companies. It has recently come under attack from ...

How to turn 9.5% into 2.4% – British Smaller Companies VCT

British Smaller Companies VCT (BSV) have recently circulated their Annual Report  prior to the AGM on the 29th July. They had a good year according to the Chairman's report with the value of the investment portfolio increasing by 9.5% over the year.  But the total return (net asset value plus dividends increased by only 2.4% (a rise of 4.8p to 197.5p since launch). How can that be? The reason is simply that costs went up 56%. That includes investment advisors fees up ...

Changes at Oxford Technology VCTs

Announcements were made last week about further changes at the four Oxford Technology VCTs and the financial results for the year were also published. These companies experienced somewhat of a revolution last year after two of them narrowly escaped losing their Venture Capital Trust tax status. New directors were appointed to them at that time. This is what is said by the Chairman in one of the Annual Reports about that problem: "Since taking up our appointment, the new Directors of the ...

ShareSoc Company Seminar Announcement

The initial line-up for our next seminar at which public companies will be presenting on the 15th July is now available and registrations are now open. This event is in the City of London (in the usual FinnCap offices venue), with registration starting at 4.00 pm. Four companies will be presenting this month and answering your questions, which are: - IDOX (IDOX): Public sector software solutions, and for highly regulated asset intensive industries. - ABZENA (ABZA): Services and technologies to support the development of better biopharmaceuticals. Plus two other companies ...
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