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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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Will Neil Woodford Succeed?

How long do you give a fund manager before giving up on poor performance? This is the key question faced by investors in the funds run by Neil Woodford and his Woodford Investment Management company. Neil Woodford had a very successful record at Invesco – their High Income fund turned £10,000 into £230,000 over 25 years. In 2014 he departed to set up his own investment company and he attracted many followers to the new platform but the record since then has ...

Invitation to Meet with Royal Mail, April 8th 15.30pm

Following the Royal Mail's AGM in 2018, at which 70% of shareholders rejected the Director's Remuneration Report, the Royal Mail are embarking on a series of consultative meetings with major shareholders and shareholders' representatives to discuss their concerns. Such a meeting has been called specifically for representatives of UK Shareholders Association and ShareSoc and will be held at the Royal Mail's premises at Victoria Embankment London on April 8th and attended by Orna Ni-Chionna, NED and Chair of the Remuneration Committee; Julia ...

VOTE FOR RBS AGM SPECIAL RESOLUTION 28 SHAREHOLDER COMMITTEE

RBS have now sent out the 2019 AGM circular to shareholders. This contains Resolution 28 requiring RBS to establish a Shareholder Committee, which was requisitioned by ShareSoc and UKSA members. If you own RBS shares, please vote for our resolution. Sadly, the RBS Board will be voting against our resolution and have recommended shareholders to vote against it. Their rationale (which is full of spurious reasons and illogic) is as follows: The concept of a shareholder committee was included in the Government’s Green ...

Excessive Pensions, Lloyds Bank and RBS

Over 20% of shareholders voted against the Lloyds 2017 Remuneration Report. Lloyds then consulted with shareholders, but this still resulted in the awful recent press. Clearly the engagement process did not work. I therefore call for Lloyds Bank to implement a Shareholder Committee, which is a more formal and regular engagement process, which builds trust and understanding between committee members and the company. This can only improve the current processes. The Lloyds 2018 annual report says: Responding to feedback We were disappointed that our ...

AIM & remuneration disclosure: still room for improvement

Some of the problems and opportunities in AIM companies were highlighted in a recent blog by Minerva Analytics which I am reproducing with their permission below, writes Cliff Weight, ShareSoc Director. Unlike their main market peers, AIM companies are not obliged to follow the detailed legislation surrounding executive pay practice. After AIM Rule 26 was changed in March 2018, they now just have to disclose which governance code they follow. For many, that will be the QCA Governance Code. While cynics often suggest ...

Safestore and Fundsmith AGMs

Today I attended the Annual General Meeting of Safestore Holdings Plc (SAFE) in Borehamwood. Their head office is next to one of their self-storage units. They now have 146 stores with a concentration in London/South-East England, and in major UK cities, plus some in Paris. The Chairman, Alan Lewis, commenced the meeting with a very brief statement. He said 2018 was a good year with good strategic progress. He is confident value creation will continue. Note that Mr Lewis is stepping down ...

Patisserie and Interserve Administrations, plus Brexit latest

Yesterday the administrators (KPMG) of Patisserie (CAKE) issued their initial report. It makes for grim reading. The hole in the accounts was much worse than previously thought with an overstatement of net assets of at least £94 million. That includes: Intangible assets overstated by £18m; Tangible assets overstated by £5m; Cash position overstated by £54m; Prepayments and debtors overstated by £7m; Creditors understated by £10m. The accounts were clearly a total fiction. It is uncertain whether there will even be sufficient assets ...

Interserve Administration: I am very angry!

I attended Interserve's General Meeting today and I am... ...angry with major shareholders, who didn't hold the board to account and couldn't be bothered to speak or vote today. ...angry with former board members who, in my opinion, did not properly exercise their corporate governance responsibilities. ...and angry with former executives who drove the Interserve ship onto the rocks... and were still well-rewarded. In short, a massive failure of corporate governance and corporate stewardship. Those responsible should hang their heads in shame. Government should consider ...

FCA Makes Platform Switching Easier

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) have today announced some measures to improve competition in the platforms market. Experienced investors who use electronic trading platforms will be well aware of the problems of switching to another provider if they are dissatisfied with the service, wish to move to a cheaper provider or for other reasons such as consolidating on one provider or spreading their risk over several. It simply takes too long to move “in-specie” holdings from one platform to another  ̶  ...

Superdry – Does It Need a Revolution?

I mentioned the requisition of an EGM to appoint two new directors at Superdry (SDRY) in a previous article. Here’s some more analysis: The requisition has been submitted by two founders – former CEO Julian Dunkerton and James Holder who together hold about 29% of the ordinary shares. They wish to appoint Julian and Peter Williams as non-executive directors – Mr Williams is a very experienced director of consumer products companies and is currently Chairman of Boohoo.com Plc although he is stepping ...

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