Shareholder Democracy

Soukup Soaks Up More Voting Power at Thalassa

There was an interesting RNS out yesterday for Thalassa (THAL). Following an amendment to the Company’s Memorandum and Articles of Association, and without a shareholder vote, each shareholder was issued with one Preference Share for each Ordinary Share held. Each Preference Share carries 10 votes, and given that they were given out on a one for one basis to Ord holders, it seems fair and simply multiplies the total voting rights by 11. (1 plus the 10 new votes per old ...

Abcam, Pay and Voting

As a long-standing shareholder in Abcam (ABC), I have just received the Annual Report and I am not happy. Abcam rather surprised the market when they issued their preliminary results which showed a massive investment in a new Oracle IT system was in difficulties. Clearly the project is over-budget and over-schedule. Costs are ramping up in other areas also and the result was a lowered broker forecast and an instant collapse in the share price – down over 30% at one point ...

Worldwide Healthcare Trust AGM – But No Proxy Voting Form

Today I attended the Annual General Meeting of Worldwide Healthcare Trust (WWH) in London. This is an investment trust focused on a portfolio of worldwide pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. It has a very good long-term track record, consistently beating its benchmark and is the top performer of all UK investment trusts measured since formation. The fund manager is OrbiMed where Sam Isalay was the managing partner until recently when he departed under a cloud of sexual harassment claims. He also resigned from ...

Shareholder rights, letters to MPs and questions at AGMs – An Update

Over 20 members have to my knowledge written to their MPs (as we requested) and a number of members have asked questions at AGMs. We have certainly raised the issue. The Minister (or most likely his civil servants) have produced what looks like a standard response which is being sent to those MPs who contacted Greg Clarke MP, the Secretary of State. Their response argues that the UK does not have to follow the intent of the EU Shareholder Rights Directive and ...

Clarification re Stock Lending and platform pooled nominee accounts

Kevin Taylor, a ShareSoc member, has pointed out to me in relation to my article page 12 of ShareSoc’s August newsletter, that stock-lending simply does not (should not under FCA rules) take place from standard pooled nominee accounts, the likes of which most retail investors would use.  The FCA’s rules could not be more explicit in this area: “A firm must not undertake or otherwise engage in stock lending activity with or for a customer unless … the firm has obtained the consent ...

Shareholder voting consumer platforms

The AIC are to be congratulated on this survey. https://www.theaic.co.uk/aic/shareholder-voting-consumer-platforms The survey was conducted by the lang cat on behalf of The AIC, and looks at practices with respect to voting for Investment Trust shares. But it looks to me to be a pretty good summary of their voting services for all UK shares. It seems like Fidelity have decided to follow good practice. But it seems HSBC and Bestinvest are still refusing to offer a voting solution, which is quite disgraceful. When will they ...

GB Group, Social Media, Rightmove and Alliance Trust

Yesterday I attended the Annual General Meeting of GB Group (GBG) in Chester. An absolutely horrendous road journey both there and back mainly due to road works as far as I can tell. But my satnav took me on the M25, M11, A14, M6, M54 and numerous minor roads on the way there from south-east London, and the M6, A50, M1, A14, M11, M25 and other minor roads on the way back. A typical example of how the UK road network ...

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 ...

Royal Mail Remuneration

I always thought that being a Chief Executive and being paid millions was a 24/7 job. I am amazed the Royal Mail could not recruit somebody from the millions of people who live in the UK. I am very angry that the details of Mr Back's £5.8million payout were buried in note 26 on page 144 of the company's annual report and not explained in the first paragraph of the Remuneration Committee Chair's statement. Hiding the pay of the new Chief ...

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 ...