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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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Forex trading and the Swiss Franc

The abrupt change of policy by Swiss authorities to relax the limit on the value of the Swiss Franc against the Euro has caused substantial chaos in foreign currency markets. Alpari, one of the leading forex trading platforms in the UK, has gone into administration and others such as Saxo Bank admitted they would incur losses as a result. In the case of UK listed company IG Group it had some impact on their share price and they had to say ...

Pensioner Bonds on Sale

The new bonds available from National Savings & Investments (NS&I) went on sale today (15/1/2015). Technically called "65+ Guaranteed Growth Bonds", they have been dubbed "Pensioner Bonds" by the media. You need to be 65 years of age or older to purchase these bonds but they do offer a very attractive interest rate in comparison with current bank deposit rates. Interest is either 2.8% per annum for a one year bond, or 4% for a three year bond. The maximum that ...

Naibu suspended

On Friday (9/1/2015) the shares of Chinese clothing company Naibu (NBU) were suspended  at the request of the non-executive directors "pending clarification of its trading position". The CFO had resigned on the 31st December and the trading update on the 24th November hinted the dividend might not be paid and profits reduced. The best comments on this event were probably those of Paul Scott who writes for Stockopedia. He has been consistently critical of Chinese companies listed on AIM and his words ...

Charles Stanley loses Finance Director

Charles Stanley announced yesterday (9/1/2014) that its Finance Director James Rawlingson was "leaving with immediate effect".  This follows the appointment of a new CEO in December after the publication of a dire set of half year results at the end of November. Funds under management were static and revenue from the Financial Services Division and platform Charles Stanley Direct were up substantially but higher costs resulted in a loss before tax of £3.9 million. The dividend was maintained at the half ...

Lloyds Banking Group ECN Scandal

Lloyds Bank issued Enhanced Capital Notes (ECNs) as part of its refinancing during the banking crisis. These were taken up by many retail investors. They were convertible bonds that the bank has the right to convert to equity or buy back if its core capital falls below a certain level. During recent Bank of England stress test, regulators ruled that the bonds no longer constituted part of the bank’s capital, triggering the possibility of redemption which Lloyds Bank is proposing to ...

A YouTube video on shareholder rights

The latest initiative in the ShareSoc campaign to improve shareholder rights is a video. In it I explain why shareholder democracy is important and how it has been totally undermined by the nominee system now in general use. Instead of you acquiring the rights of an owner of the business when you buy shares, those rights have been diverted and purloined by the nominee operator or stockbroker. This is simply wrong! That is why ShareSoc has been campaigning for change under the ...

2014 Review and New Year Resolutions

Now's the time of year to look back on the performance of the stock market in 2014, and look at plans for the future. Last year was undoubtedly a disappointing year for the UK stock market. The FTSE All-Share index was down 2.45%, worse than many other major markets. The cause was undoubtedly that the All-Share index is dominated by large mega-cap FTSE-100 companies such as BP, Shell, Glaxo and Tesco. The first two have been badly hit by the decline ...

Auditor Regulation and the dozy watchdogs

The Government has published a public consultation on Auditor Regulation. This is a discussion document in response to the requirements of a new European Directive on Audit, and your responses are invited. It's available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/auditor-regulation-effects-of-the-eu-and-wider-reforms although those who do not have a professional interest in the subject may find it heavy going. But it's worth repeating the first paragraph which is: "Effective financial reporting underpins the development of the best businesses - those that others are willing to invest in and ...

Royal Mail and Myners’ report on other Government sell-offs

The Government sell-off of a major stake in Royal Mail was controversial in many ways. It proved to be even more so when the placing price of £3.30 was rapidly eclipsed by a market price which rose to as high as £6 although it's been mostly downhill since (at the time of writing it's 420p). The long term holders who were given priority in the share allocation soon turned out to be anything but with 44% of the shares changing hands ...

Ignoring the UK Corporate Governance Code

Last week there were Annual General Meetings of the Baronsmead 1 and 2 VCTs (BDV and BVT) and the British Empire Securities and General Trust (BTEM) on the same day. These companies are all investment trusts although the latter is of course somewhat different in nature to the two Venture Capital Trusts. They do have one thing in common though - they both claim to be able to report against the AIC Corporate Governance Code rather than the UK Corporate Governance ...
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