Shareholder Democracy

Albion Venture Capital VCT (AAVC) AGM Result and Actions

30% of shareholders opposed the increase in fees at the AAVC AGM. This is a remarkable result and sends a strong signal to the directors that they need to better engage with their shareholders. I think the % voting against would have been higher if: we had started our campaign earlier we had received the shareholder register earlier we had been able to get in touch with all shareholders prior to the AGM the directors had not sent out a letter to ...

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 ...

Albion Venture Capital Trust PLC and Ventus funds

The Albion Venture Capital AGM is on Wed 21 Aug. Cliff Weight, Mark Lauber, Tim Grattan and others will be attending and asking questions. I finally received the Albion Venture Capital register on 16 August 2019. However, Albion Venture Capital VCT Chair Richard Glover wrote to all 5,300 shareholders on 15 August. Many were sent emails but the copy of the register we were given did not have email addresses, so we were unable to email shareholders. In the time available ...

Ventus and Ventus 2 VCTs– obstacles to a level playing field in unseating directors

By Cliff Weight, ShareSoc Director I was pleased to see the highly respected and influential Investors Chronicle taking an interest in and writing a balance article on the Ventus funds, see https://www.investorschronicle.co.uk/comment/2019/07/18/limits-of-influence/ The IC seems to think ShareSoc is leading and driving the campaign, whereas the campaign leader is Nick Curtis, but other than this point I think it is a very good article. What is becoming apparent is how extremely difficult it is to unseat directors, because the playing field is tilted so ...

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 ...

VCT Investor Group – Ventus & Ventus 2 VCT Shareholder Resolutions

Examples of egregious fee structures and of passive directors are to be found in many VCTs (Venture Capital Trusts). ShareSoc and its members campaign to try to rein in the worst offenders, see https://www.sharesoc.org/campaigns/vct-investors-group/ Our principal objectives are: To provide best practice guidelines on management fees, performance fees, directors’ tenure and independence. To provide advice for investors on specific VCTs by Identifying existing holders willing to work with others to share knowledge, to identify areas of concern and to make ...

Worldwide Healthcare Trust and Investor Voting

I recently received the Annual Report of Worldwide Healthcare Trust (WWH). This is one of those companies that has stopped sending out proxy voting forms for their AGM. The Registrar is Link Asset Services who seem to be making it as difficult as possible for shareholders on the register to vote. You either have to contact them to request a proxy voting form, or register for their on-line portal. I don’t want to register (and the last time I tried it ...

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 ...

Invitation to Meet with Royal Mail, April 8th 15.30pm

Following the Royal Mail's AGM in 2018, at which 70% of shareholders rejected the Director's Remuneration Report, the Royal Mail are embarking on a series of consultative meetings with major shareholders and shareholders' representatives to discuss their concerns. Such a meeting has been called specifically for representatives of UK Shareholders Association and ShareSoc and will be held at the Royal Mail's premises at Victoria Embankment London on April 8th and attended by Orna Ni-Chionna, NED and Chair of the Remuneration Committee; Julia ...

Excessive Pensions, Lloyds Bank and RBS

Over 20% of shareholders voted against the Lloyds 2017 Remuneration Report. Lloyds then consulted with shareholders, but this still resulted in the awful recent press. Clearly the engagement process did not work. I therefore call for Lloyds Bank to implement a Shareholder Committee, which is a more formal and regular engagement process, which builds trust and understanding between committee members and the company. This can only improve the current processes. The Lloyds 2018 annual report says: Responding to feedback We were disappointed that our ...