Regulations and Law

Redcentric (RCN) Campaign: Important Developments

There have been important developments in our campaign regarding the accounting scandal at IT service group, Redcentric. Firstly the FRC have moved at "lightning speed" (by their usually interminable standards), and published their findings in little more than two years after the matter was brought to their attention. And secondly there is news on the parallel FCA investigation in Redcentric's recently published annual results for 2018/19. FRC Report The FRC concluded that Redcentric's auditors, PwC, did not meet expected professional standards in their audits ...

Bonmarché Update, FCA Grilling over Woodford and Amati AIM VCT AGM

Yesterday Bonmarché (BON) conceded defeat in its opposition to a takeover bid at 11.4p. On the 17th May it had rejected the bid because it “materially undervalues Bonmarché and its prospects”. The share price of this women’s clothing retailer was over 100p a year ago but the latest trading review suggests sales are dire because of underlying weakness in the clothing market and “a lack of seasonal weather”. Auditors might have qualified the accounts due to be published soon due to ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

Paying Illegal Dividends, Burford Capital, Woodford Patient Capital Trust and Zero Carbon Objective

A group of investors including Sarasin, Legal & General, Hermes and the UK Shareholders Association (UKSA) has written to Sir Donald Brydon who is undertaking a review of the audit market. They have yet again raised the question of whether the International Financial Accounting Standards (IFRS) are consistent with UK company law. In particular they question whether profits are sometimes being recognised, thus allowing the payment of illegal dividends. The particular issue is whether profits can arise on certain transactions under ...

Good News – Autonomy CFO Jailed

Good news – former CFO of public company jailed for fiddling the accounts. Oh to see that happen more often so as to deter manipulation of accounts that is so prevalent and so damaging to investors. Sushovan Hussain, the former CFO of software company Autonomy, was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment by a US Court yesterday plus he was fined $4 million and ordered to forfeit $6.1 million he made from the sale of the company to Hewlett-Packard. He won’t even be ...

Changes Proposed at Companies House

The Government BEIS Department have recently proposed a number of important changes to the way Companies House operates in a public consultation entitled “Corporate Transparency and Register Reform” (see https://tinyurl.com/yysf9gdn ). Here’s a brief summary of the main points: This consultation will be of interest to anyone who is a director of a private or a public company, or a major shareholder in such a company (i.e. those People with Significant Control). Even directors of the smallest companies could be affected. A major ...

Warren Buffett and FCA Review of RDR & FAMR

There was an interesting article on the career of Warren Buffett in the last FT Weekend magazine. It was a wide-ranging interview with the renowned investor who became one of the richest persons in the world by making investments which consistently outperformed the markets over the last 50 years. At age 88 he still claims to be having fun by working at investment. But in the last ten years he has fallen behind the S&P index. The reason is primarily because he ...