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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.

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Unhelpful Computershare provide RBS register in ugly pdf format

I am writing this blog to castigate Computershare for their unhelpful service and suggest that registrars should be required to respond to valid register requests with a more usable response. I recently requested a copy of the RBS register of shareholders. I wanted this so we could write to RBS shareholders about the upcoming resolution for a shareholder committee at the 2019 RBS AGM. Despite repeated requests, Computershare refused to provide the register in a user friendly format. I know that the Computershare system is capable of ...

Response to FRC Post Implementation Review of 2016 Ethical and Auditing Standards

UKSA and ShareSoc made a a joint response to the FRC Post Implementation Review of 2016 Ethical and Auditing Standards The main points we made were: We welcome the FRC’s decision to hold a post-implementation review of the 2016 Ethical and Auditing standards. The audit profession and audits are in a state of crisis. The recent cases of Carillion, Conviviality, Patisserie Holdings, Flybe and Interserve make investors very worried as to whether they can trust accounts. It is not just the high ...

Stewardship Should Reflect Views of Beneficial Owners

We, ShareSoc, think that individual investors have been disenfranchised by the nominee system and by the difficulties in getting timely copies of Annual Reports, AGM notices and voting forms. It is estimated only 6% of individual investors shares get voted, which is a disgrace. What is needed is a neat, easy to use system that makes it ultra quick and easy to vote your shares. Individuals who invest in funds have little or no control over how the shares in their funds ...

RBS General Meeting Report

98.7% of shareholders voted for the proposal, with 1.3% against. A very strong majority. UKGI did not vote their shares. I watched the General Meeting on the webcast. Attendance looked pretty thin. Three people asked questions. Neil Mitchell questioned the prudence of using company funds to buy back shares when there was £15bn of GR legacy issues claims outstanding. He also questioned why there had to be so much haste (why not wait until the AGM and after the annual results were ...

AssetCo Case and Grant Thornton Defense

I mentioned in a previous blog post yesterday the judgement in the case of the alleged breach of duty by Grant Thornton (GT) when acting as auditors of AssetCo Plc (ASTO) in 2009/10. See https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Comm/2019/150.html for the full judgement. For those who have not had the opportunity to read all 300 pages of the judgement, here are some interesting points from it: It was conceded that the audit was negligent in a number of respects, but GT’s defense against the damages claim ...

Stephen Haddrill, CEO, FRC sees the light and gets tougher.

Stephen Haddrill, head of the Financial Reporting Council, appeared before MPs in one of a series of hearings held by the Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee to examine the future of the auditing industry in the wake of a number of scandals involving overstatement of profit and insolvency. When asked whether the FRC and other regulators were “too passive and reactive”, Mr Haddrill acknowledged that he should have been less afraid to challenge companies in the courts and less accepting ...

Flybe, InterServe, Jackals, Vultures and BEIS progress on Insolvency Laws

Flybe is another example of the problems of the insolvency system not working very well. @LucyGJWhite explains it well in today's Daily Mail https://www.dailymail.co.uk/money/markets/article-6671393/Investor-anger-cut-price-Flybe-takeover.html which quotes me. It is shocking that the directors rejected a merger deal at 40p and now are recommending a 1p deal - they should be ashamed. The UK Shareholders Association/ShareSoc wrote a very good response to the BEIS Consultation on Insolvency and Corporate Governance https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/insolvency-and-corporate-governance. Click here for our response https://www.sharesoc.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/BEIS-Consultation-on-Insolvency-and-corporate-Governance-joint-UKSA-ShareSoc-response1.pdf. We made the very important point: In the US, Chapter 11 ...

AssetCo, Patisserie, Stockpiling, Warehouses, Sheds, Brexit and Venezuela

A week ago, an award of damages of £21 million plus interest and costs was made against Grant Thornton for their breach of duty when acting as auditors of AssetCo Plc (ASTO) in 2009/10. See https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Comm/2019/150.html for the full judgement. I understand Grant Thornton may appeal. These are the key sentences in the judgement: It is common ground that in those years the senior management team at AssetCo behaved in a way that was fundamentally dishonest. During the audit process management made ...

FRC Review of Auditing Standards – They’re Looking At The Wrong Things

The Financial Report Council (FRC) have recently published a “Post Implementation Review: 2016 Ethical and Auditing Standards”. It concentrates on the changes made in 2016 to improve the independence...

Staffline Issues, Audit Purpose and Patisserie

Yesterday Staffline Group (STAF) issued a statement first thing in the morning saying that the publication of results scheduled for that day would be delayed. The shares promptly dropped...

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