Regulations and Law

Brexit, Abcam, Victoria and the Beaufort Case

Another bad day for my portfolio yesterday after a week of bad days last week when I was on holiday. Some of the problems relate to the rise in the pound based on suggestions by Michel Barnier that there might actually be a settlement of Brexit along the lines proposed by Theresa May. This has hit all the companies with lots of exports and investment trusts with big holdings in dollar investments that comprise much of my portfolio. But a really ...

Insolvency Regime Changes – A Step Forward

There’s nothing like issuing a major Government announcement on the Sunday of an August bank holiday weekend to get good media coverage is there? But as it’s raining and I have nothing much else to do, I have read the announcement and here is a summary: The announcement is entitled “Insolvency and Corporate Governance – Government Response” (see https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/insolvency-and-corporate-governance ). It is the Government’s response to past public consultations on how to tackle some of the perceived problems when companies get into ...

Stopping Another Beaufort Case

Readers are probably aware of the administration of stockbroker Beaufort, how PwC are running up enormous bills to the disadvantage of creditors and how they also claimed to be able to charge the bills against client assets under the Special Administration Rules. See here for more information if you are not familiar with this debacle: https://www.sharesoc.org/campaigns/beaufort-client-campaign/ I hope all stock market investors have already written to their Members of Parliament on this topic, not just to get the Special Administration Rules changed ...

8pm Tuesday, 7 August, the BBC Radio 4 documentary ‘The Equity Release Trap’.

Make a date in your diary for 8pm Tuesday, 7 August, for the BBC Radio 4 documentary ‘The Equity Release Trap’. The documentary investigates the claims of Professor Kevin Dowd, professor of finance and economics at the University of Durham, that the equity release sector has been seriously under-valuing embedded guarantees, and that the regulator, the Prudential Regulation Authority, has only made half-hearted attempts to address these under-valuations while permitting them anyway. The implications for some of the firms involved could ...

Lax Regulation (Globo, GRG) and Japanese Trust AGM

Globo was one of those AIM companies that turned out to be a complete fraud. Back in December 2015 the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) announced an investigation into the audits of the company by Grant Thornton (GT). Even the cash reported on the balance sheet in the consolidated accounts of the parent company proved to be non-existent (or had been stolen perhaps). I have previously complained about the slow progress and the lack of any information on this investigation. But former shareholders ... Read more

Premier Foods, stock lending, custodians, shareholder rights and nominee accounts

The background to my comments is below: KATE BURGESS in the FT on 15 July 2018 reported that accusations of empty voting — where investors borrow voting shares for short periods to swing the outcome at meetings —reverberated around the market ahead of Premier Food’s shareholder meeting next week. They were sparked when Oasis Management , the Hong Kong activist hoping to unseat Premier’s chief executive Gavin Darby, said it had increased its stake in the owner of Angel Delight from 9 to ...

Voting at General Meetings, Link Asset Services and CentralNic

CentralNic (CNIC) have announced that the proxy voting forms they sent out to shareholders on the register for their forthcoming General Meeting were invalid as it omitted a signature block. So they have sent them out again. As a shareholder in the company, I spotted the error and simply wrote my name and the date on the bottom of the form and signed it. That should suffice. It is a little known fact that you don’t actually need to use the proxy ...

Duty of Care or Fiduciary Duty to Investors?

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) have published two papers on their approach to consumers (i.e. retail savers/investors in their terminology). These cover whether a new “Duty of Care”, or...

UK Corporate Governance Code and new Companies (Miscellaneous Reporting) Regulations 2018

On July 16th, 2018 the FRC published its latest revision of the UK Corporate Governance Code, which is in my view shorter, simpler and better. The code can be read here: https://www.frc.org.uk/getattachment/88bd8c45-50ea-4841-95b0-d2f4f48069a2/2018-UK-Corporate-Governance-Code-FINAL.PDF A summary of the main changes is here https://www.frc.org.uk/getattachment/524d4f4b-62df-4c76-926a-66e223ca0893/Key-highlights-of-the-Code.pdf The FRC have also published a report on their consultation about the Code which explains the changes and the arguments for and against specific changes https://www.frc.org.uk/getattachment/90797f4b-37a1-463e-937f-5cfb14dbdcc4/2018-UK-Corporate-Governance-Code-Feedback-Statement-July-2018.pdf The changes to the Code complement the changes announced by Government in June 2018 to the Companies (Miscellaneous Reporting) ...

Investment Platforms Market Study

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) have just published an interim report on their study of “investment platforms”. It makes for very interesting reading. That is particularly so after the revelations from Hardman last week. They reported that the revenue per assets held on the platform from Hargreaves Lansdown (HL) was more than twice that of soon to be listed AJ Bell Youinvest. HL is the gorilla in the direct to consumer platform market with about 40% market share. HL earns £473 ...
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