Regulations and Law

An Update on SVS Securities

On 5th August the FCA announced that broker SVS Securities had entered Special Administration. Once again, as in the case of Beaufort Securities, this is a situation that will cause great concern and, at a minimum, some inconvenience, for SVS clients. Whilst a firm is in special administration, clients are not able to trade securities held on their behalf, or access money held on their behalf, including dividend payments. It is disappointing that it has taken until 12th September for clients to receive ...

EDGE – Another VCT Problem Case

At this years AGM on 28 Aug 2109, 3 directors were voted out, Sir Robin Miller, Lord Flight and David Glick. ShareSoc has been critical of this VCT for some time, see https://www.sharesoc.org/blog/vcts/edge-performance-vct-the-worst-show-on-earth/ https://www.sharesoc.org/blog/vcts/edge-vct-trick-treat-pair-rnss/ https://www.sharesoc.org/agm-reports/edge-performance-vct/ https://www.sharesoc.org/blog/company-news//a-couple-of-problem-vcts-foresight-4-and-edge-performance/ Shareholder dissent continued and at this years AGM on 28 Aug 2109, 3 directors were voted out, Sir Robin Miller, Lord Flight and David Glick and various other motions were defeated. Proxy votes cast were as follows: Resolution For Against Withheld 2. Approve directors' remuneration report 1,770,628 3,106,545 47,968 3. Re-elect Sir Robin Miller 1,725,784 3,140,268 59,089 4. Re-elect Lord Flight 1,659,996 3,206,056 59,089 5. Re-elect David Glick 1,715,071 3,183,421 26,649 6. Re-appoint Grant Thornton UK LLP as auditor 2,147,140 2,751,352 26,649 8. Authorise directors ...

Burford, GE and Media Regulation

As most readers will be aware, Burford Capital (BUR) has been under attack by Muddy Waters over its accounts, corporate governance and other matters. Muddy Waters, led by Carson Block, has been shorting the stock. Now we have a similar attack on venerable US company General Electric (GE) who have been accused by Harry Markopolos of false accounting over liabilities on long-term care insurance policies. This caused the share price of GE to drop by 11% on one day last week. ...

Voting Problems, Computershare, Albion Venture Capital and PLAIN ENGLISH.

By Cliff Weight Computershare have refused to accept a vote instruction for the Albion Venture Capital AGM, because it was sent to them electronically. It was signed, scanned and sent to them by email. They say that the meeting notice says what form the instruction must be sent and this overrides the Companies Act, CA2006 S333. The notice says the instruction must be sent to Computershare, but does not say how (see below for the precise wording used). In this modern age, surely ...

Burford – Illegal Market Manipulation?

Burford Capital (BUR) have issued an announcement that makes a number of allegations about the events surrounding the recent shorting attack on the company involving Muddy Waters. It includes: Spoofing and layering to move the share price, e.g. putting in numerous share sales on the order book and cancelling them before they can be filled. That includes numerous such transactions just before Muddy Waters issued a tweet giving Burford as the target, and as that tweet was delayed only Muddy Waters ...

FRC Enforcement of its Rules

by Cliff Weight, ShareSoc Director Very belatedly, the FRC has substantially increased tough action to tackle poor quality audit. To me, these were the key words which showed that for the last ten years the FRC had dreadfully understaffed this activity - "The Enforcement Division has grown significantly in recent years reflecting the FRC’s investment in what has become recognised as one of the organisation’s key functions. A decade ago the team comprised just six members. By 31 March 2019 it had been expanded to ...

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 ...