Biffa: A Token Retail Offering is Not Good Enough

It was initially pleasing to see FTSE250 company, Biffa plc, recognise its retail shareholders, by making an offer though PrimaryBid alongside its recent institutional placing.

As ever, the Prospectus Regulation meant that the retail offer was limited to €8m (otherwise a costly prospectus would have to be issued to make a larger offer to retail investors). Pretty paltry compared to the £100m institutional placing.

I applied for the retail offer and was disappointed that my application was scaled back by nearly 50%. Disappointment turned to anger when the company announced that it had only allocated ~£1m worth of the issued shares to retail investors. Given that Biffa had the ability to allocate up to €8m worth of shares to the retail offer, why did it choose to scale those investors back?

I am left with the impression that the retail offer was purely for the sake of appearance, and the company preferred to issue shares to City institutions and insiders. Tokenistic offers like this do nothing to enhance the issuer’s reputation as “investor friendly”.

Mark Bentley, Director, ShareSoc