Derek Pain: Democracy in action is such a refreshing thing, even if it isn't fair to all
No Pain, No Gain
Saturday 07 August 2010
I have often condemned private share placings as inequable exercises that disadvantage small shareholders and shame the City. Invariably, only a privileged few, including directors, are invited to buy the new shares, often well below the then ruling stock market price.
It can be a highly lucrative exercise for those who take part. But the vast majority of shareholders are left out in the cold, merely envious onlookers.
So I applaud the recent move by little Manx Financial, running Conister, the Isle of Man's independent bank, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. The company needed to raise £1.9m. It was unable to conduct a private placing and decided to launch a one-for-three open offer at 9p a share. Small shareholders, deemed as those with less than 0.5 per cent of the capital, were given priority. The issue was comfortably oversubscribed. And the whole exercise – in effect a rights issue – cost about £90,000, demolishing claims that such cash raising excursions are too expensive.
Although the Manx exercise was not expensive, it did take longer to complete than most placings. The whole operation lasted more than eight weeks, although a mix up at the company's registrars prolonged the offer by some two weeks. Defenders of placings say they are the cheapest and quickest method of raising cash. Manx, headed by the entrepreneur Jim Mellon, is one company prepared to consider small shareholders and has struck a blow for their welfare. Its experience underlines that only businesses in a desperate rush to raise extra cash can justify adopting the placing method rather than open-to-all rights issues or open offers.
It could be argued that placings allow companies to reduce the size of their shareholder bases and consequently save cash. I recall some directors taking such a dislike to modest investments that they attempted to block or buy them out on the pretence that they increased the bill for maintaining share registers. But the stock market is supposed to be a democracy with equal rights for all. I realise that is not strictly true; the machinations in the City and the influence of major investors make a nonsense of any suggestion of equality. Still, placings are a blatant example of ingrained favouritism.
My imagination could be running riot but I get the impression that nowadays we are witnessing much sharper share movements, with no immediately apparent explanations. Maybe it is a reflection of the tense atmosphere that appears to exist in the stock market. It could also indicate that insider trading is more prevalent than ever. Unexplained swings are particularly frequent among small caps. Yet the fringe Plus Quoted market does not often feature wild gyrations. It enjoys something of a comatose reputation. I have discussed the problems facing the owner, Plus Markets Group, on a number of occasions. Possibilities that must be considered are that a sale of the Plus Quoted market occurs; or, calamitously, that it is discontinued.
I gather vague talks between PMG shareholders – and other interested parties – have taken place about the future of Plus Quoted. Quite unintentionally, the London Stock Exchange has provided an escape route for any disillusioned constituent. Under pressure from Brussels, the LSE has been forced to introduce more relaxed requirements for fully-listed companies. Already one Plus member, Aviation, is contemplating taking advantage of the new rules. Its shares have been on Plus for nearly four years and are one of the market's success stories, more than doubling to 58p in the past year. The company, which leases aircraft to airlines, is capitalised at £14.5m.
The LSE's junior market – the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) – has attracted three Plus shares in past weeks and could well win more converts. Another possible refuge for Plus constituents is the Channel Islands Stock Exchange, which handles approaching 200 securities. And there is also the JP Jenkins market for unquoted shares. It contains more than 30 constituents, ranging from Convivial London Pubs, with eight outlets, to Sheffield United Football Club. The Jenkins exercise has benefited from Aim delistings.
I don't think Plus Quoted will disappear. Despite heavy losses, PMG is not short of cash with, at the last count, £10.7m in the bank. It is striving – I think successfully – to recapture its old exuberance but its low share price of about 2p indicates City scepticism.
Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown
Simon Read: There may be trouble ahead for cohabiting couples who don’t make a will
Why the City Watchdog is concerned with the credit card industry
Money Insider: Would £150 make you switch banks?
Bargain Hunter: Find the deals that have real value beneath the Black Friday hype
Gold-plated pensions – the key to retirement freedom?
- 1 Exodus Gods and Kings: Ridley Scott never considered casting 'Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such' in lead role
- 2 This letter from a reader explains why women can’t play football
- 3 'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
- 4 Scientists predict green energy revolution after incredible new graphene discoveries
- 5 Obama: The only people with the right to object to immigration are Native Americans
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Rochester aftermath: Sacking of Emily Thornberry will make work of Labour MPs '10 times harder'
iJobs Money & Business
£20000 - £22000 per annum: Argyll Scott International: Service Desk Analyst Re...
£20000 - £22000 per annum: Argyll Scott International: Service Desk Analyst Re...
£30000 - £250000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A global Rolling Spot FX, Comm...
£Attractive Package: Citifocus Ltd: Chartered accountant (ACA or CPA), must be...
Day In a Page
A deceptively spacious, beautifully presented Georgian home with 3000sq ft of living space and five reception rooms
A five-bedroom Victorian home with four receptions, superb gardens and paddock in Pembury
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
A three-bedroom, 15th-century cottage with original features in the picturesque village of Sissinghurst
A six-bedroom terraced house with large south-facing roof terrace, cinema room and wine cellar
A new seven-bedroom home built in Queen Anne-style with swimming pool and parkland views in Mortimer
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens