Regulations and Law

Delays in SIPP and ISA transfers

I commented on the delays in transferring a SIPP from Hargreaves Lansdown to another provider in the May ShareSoc Newsletter, and we published some letters from other members on similar problems in the June Newsletter. I thought readers might like to know that the original SIPP transfer has now finally completed. It actually took over 5 calendar months to get all the portfolio holdings to transfer (this being an "in-specie" transfer as it is called). This is clearly a quite ridiculous period ...

Alkane Placing – What a Wheeze!

Today (17/7/2014) Alkane Energy announced a placing to raise £8m to fund the acquisition of three power response companies. The placing was at 36p, when the closing price the previous day was 39.5p indicating a discount of 9%. But as with all such placings, the news had got around the market beforehand, so it's more like a 15% discount to the share price before the news spread. So what you may ask? It's just another placing that prejudices private shareholders who were ...

Shareholder Class Actions

The topic of shareholder class actions is a controversial one. Before ShareSoc participates in any such actions, on behalf of its members, we therefore wish to obtain the views of our membership on this subject. We will shortly poll all our members, including associates, to ask your views. If you would like to cast a vote, and receive the other benefits that ShareSoc offers, but are not already a member, you can join us here: www.sharesoc.org/membership/ The poll will be e-mailed ...

Long standing directors and investment trusts

The UK Corporate Governance Code has a clear rule about non-executive directors who have served for more than nine years (Code B.1.1.) which states "The board should state its reasons if it determines that a director is independent notwithstanding the existence of relationships or circumstances which may appear relevant to its determination, including if the director: has served on the board for more than nine years from the date of their first election". This rule was not introduced to ensure that ...

Short selling petition

The recent shorting attacks on companies such as Quindell, Blinkx and Globo have dismayed many new investors in UK stock markets. Indeed this is what one of our correspondents had to say: "As someone who has recently taken the advice of many, including government, to invest in the stock market, I thought you might be interested to know that I have quickly realised that the whole thing is a manipulated scam and that I will be having nothing to do with ...

West Bromwich Building Society in profit

The West Bromwich Building Society recently issued their accounts for their financial year ending in March 2014. They actually managed to make a small profit after years of losses. Does that mean that the PIBS holders will start to receive their dividends again? In essence no. According to Peter Morgan who led a campaign on the issue, it might yet be another 5 years before these bondholders receive any interest whatsoever. To remind readers about this problem, in 2009, the Society ran ...

Giving Personal Shareowners a Voice

"Giving Personal Shareowners a Voice" was the title of a meeting yesterday (3/7/2014) organised by Gavin Oldham of The Share Centre. It was organised to discuss a number of concerns about shareholder engagement with companies and the rights of individual shareholders. It was attended by a number of "stakeholders" interested in this area including representatives from the BIS, FRC, WMA, Wider Share Ownership Council, ShareAction, UKSA, ICSA, a number of journalists and myself representing ShareSoc. The first topic covered was the failure ...

Fiduciary Duty and Intermediated Securities Report – A Bombshell at the End

The Law Commission was asked to undertake a review of how the law of fiduciary duties applies to investment intermediaries and to evaluate whether the law works in the interests of end investors. This followed a recommendation in the Kay Review undertaken by Professor John Kay where he attacked the excessive "intermediation" in financial markets, the lack of clarity of responsibility, the difficulties trustees have in interpreting their duties and related factors that seemed to be undermining the ethics of financial ...

Magna Carta and Bank Nationalisations

There was an interesting letter in the Financial Times on Saturday (14/6/2014) from Prof. Tim Congdon.  As a former Northern  Rock shareholder he pointed out that the latest results from Northern Rock Asset Management (the "bad" part of the bank that was left after the good part was sold off to Virgin) showed underlying profits of £1.16bn. So it has achieved profits of almost £3bn in the last 39 months and is likely to generate a few more billion before the ...

Quindell – and how to avoid the shorters

Quindell, a company operating in the insurance sector, came under attack yesterday by Gotham City Research LLC, an investment analysis firm. Quindell's shares ended down on the day by 39% and were down more than 50% at one point. Gotham City make numerous allegations in a 74-page document which is available from their web site. Without a lot more knowledge of this company and a detailed study of these allegations, it is impossible to comment on the substance of them, but some ...