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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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Shareholder Rights Being Eroded

There is a good article in the Financial Times today (Saturday 22/6/2019) which is headlined “UK shareholder rights being eroded”. As the article says, almost no investors who buy shares legally own the shares they have bought, which rather surprises them. That’s because most of them buy via nominee accounts operated by stockbrokers and platforms. Not only that, but most nominee accounts are “pooled” accounts so even identifying who are the “beneficial owners” is not always easy. Does it matter? Yes it ...

Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) Retail Shareholder Event 14 June 2019

Carla Antunes da Silva, Executive Committee member and Group Strategy, Corporate Ventures and Investors Relations Director and Douglas Radcliffe, Group Investor Relations Director presented to 40 retail shareholders in a highly successful event organised by Lloyds and ShareSoc. After a detailed 45 minute presentation, Carla and Douglas answered questions for 30 minutes, followed by informal discussions and networking over a very pleasant buffet lunch on the 8th floor of the Lloyds head office in Gresham Street overlooking the London skyline. Copies of the presentation ...

Slack IPO, Web Privacy and Sell on Monday

The IPO of Slack in the USA has received a lot of media coverage. This is one of those technology stocks that is on what at first glance is a sky-high valuation. Slack provides workplace collaboration software and last year had revenues of $400 million, and lost $140 million. The market cap is now around $20 billion which means it is valued at about 50 times revenue. Those are the negative numbers. The positive aspect is that it roughly doubled revenue ...

Royal Mail – ShareSoc supports new pay policy

At the 2018 Royal Mail AGM, over 70% of shareholders voted against the remuneration report. Following extensive consultation, the Royal Mail have developed a new remuneration policy. As part of the consultation they consulted with the UK Shareholders' Association and ShareSoc members. On balance we recommend members to vote for the new remuneration policy and the remuneration report at the upcoming AGM, which is (sadly) inconveniently located in Exeter. Below is the content of a letter we have written to Royal Mail: 20 ...

Woodford, FCA, Asset Management

Today the FT reveals that the FCA have launched an investigation in the Woodford Equity Income Fund. Last night in the Evening Standard, Anthony Hilton estimated that only about 200,000 people were invested in Woodford funds, and added "so why all the fuss". I think it is about trust. Most people in the UK do not trust business. For example, it does not help public levels of trust when Woodford takes a £36m dividend (from Woodford Investment Management Limited year end March 2018 ...

Response to FCA CP19/12 Consultation on Investment Platforms Market Study Remedies

In a joint response from UKSA and ShareSoc on behalf of individual investors, to the FCA CP19/12 Consultation on Investment Platforms Market Study Remedies, we said: As noted in para 1.6 of CP19/12, the consultation paper will also be of interest to representative industry bodies and consumer groups.  Individual consumers may also find it of interest, and their feedback is welcome.We represent “consumers[1]”, although we prefer the term ‘investors’. To inform our response, ShareSoc undertook a survey of our members in April-May 2019 ...

VCT Investor Group – Ventus & Ventus 2 VCT Shareholder Resolutions

Examples of egregious fee structures and of passive directors are to be found in many VCTs (Venture Capital Trusts). ShareSoc and its members campaign to try to rein in the worst offenders, see https://www.sharesoc.org/campaigns/vct-investors-group/ Our principal objectives are: To provide best practice guidelines on management fees, performance fees, directors’ tenure and independence. To provide advice for investors on specific VCTs by Identifying existing holders willing to work with others to share knowledge, to identify areas of concern and to make ...

Worldwide Healthcare Trust and Investor Voting

I recently received the Annual Report of Worldwide Healthcare Trust (WWH). This is one of those companies that has stopped sending out proxy voting forms for their AGM. The Registrar is Link Asset Services who seem to be making it as difficult as possible for shareholders on the register to vote. You either have to contact them to request a proxy voting form, or register for their on-line portal. I don’t want to register (and the last time I tried it ...

JESC and WPCT – Much in Common

Last week I received the Annual Report of JP Morgan European Smaller Companies Trust (JESC) which I have held since 2012. It has a good long-term performance but last year was disappointing. Net asset value return of minus 7.5% which is worse than their benchmark of minus 3.6%. The share price did even worse and it is now on a discount to NAV of nearly 15% as the discount has widened. The under-performance was attributed to poor stock selection. The Chairman, Carolan ...

Progress at Last! Review of Intermediated Securities

As members of ShareSoc will know, our Shareholder Rights Campaign is one of our most important activities. The current difficulty of contacting shareholders whose shares are held in nominee accounts, and the difficulty many such shareholders have in voting, is a severe impediment to driving necessary change. This is a particular problem with smallcap companies. In other words, without improved shareholder rights, it is difficult for any other campaigns directed at problem companies to succeed. Less scrupulous directors know this and feel ...

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