Private Investor: I got them free, sold cheap and lost a packet
Saturday 01 April 2006
It's funny how you can watch a share for years and years with nothing happening and then suddenly all hell breaks loose, everyone wants it and it's surrounded by bid talk. It's even worse if you've been given the shares for nothing and then sold them. Such is my experience with Alliance & Leicester.
When it was a building society, or rather when it was the Leicester Building Society, I was a saver (it was the local society after all) and, thus, a member entitled to the "windfall" shares awarded when, after the merger with the Alliance Building Society, it was eventually floated.
There is, I would guess, still a bit of a concentration of members of the present company in the Leicester area. Me, I sold the shares not so long after the float and forgot all about them, occasionally glancing at the share price and reflecting on how wise my decision had been. I never thought that the shares would ever breach the magic £10 threshold, and yet now they have, with a rumour of a £13 or thereabouts bid doing the rounds.
As with those other quoted and still independent remnants of our once-mighty building society movement, Northern Rock and Bradford & Bingley, no one seems to have thought Alliance & Leicester could survive on its own in the big bad world of banking, and yet that was hardly ever reflected in the share price.
That went on for years and that, I have to say, was the window of opportunity that I missed. There they were sitting at around £8 for as long as I can recall, and I never even thought about adding them or, rather, restoring them to the portfolio.
A mistake, obviously, and in the great sell-off of corporate Britain to foreign entities it seems that nothing, not even the banking sector, is sacred.
Tony Blair pointed out the other day how most of the gas, water and electricity flowing into No 10 is delivered by companies that are now owned abroad, and wondered what the fuss was all about.
The French, on the other hand, seem to favour "economic patriotism", or nationalism if you like, to such an extent that even the great yoghurt enterprise Danone has been determined a prize national asset.
I think they're wrong about that, but if they want to sate their gallic pride by buying my old building society, then I suppose it's good luck to them. The inevitable job losses at the Leicester HQ will no doubt follow and the brand may well be mismanaged into oblivion, but c'est la vie.
I certainly doubt that Banco Santander's takeover of Abbey National will revolutionise British banking. I just wonder why it is that British banks never seem to have the same degree of freedom in buying other European assets, that's all.
So, even though I might dislike the move for reasons of sentiment and fairness, I ought to think about making some money out of this great move to consolidation in the banking sector.
A&L still looks the best of the bunch, because it hasn't had the problems Bradford & Bingley has had and because the yield is still quite respectable. But I don't buy the shares because I have been waiting for a little weakness in the price to offer some sort of buying opportunity. That may prove an error.
As to selling shares, I'm still not sure as to whether I should carry on chucking Vodafone out. I sold down a chunk a few weeks ago, but there's more in the portfolio. Talking about economic patriotism, Vodafone must be counted one of Britain's great business "champions".
Except, that is, when it comes to the share price, which has remained stubbornly low, even when almost all the rest of the market has picked up.
If only some continental telecoms company would come along with a juicy bid for Vodafone - but I think that they're in even worse shape than our Newbury-based friends. At least the Vodafone people have followed my advice about the fun and games in the boardroom. Paying themselves millions while the company stagnated was never going to be a winning strategy for the hearts and minds of investors.
Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown
Pension mortgages: 'The advice I was given was wrong and now I face losing my home'
You'll need £220,000 for a minimum wage in your retirement
Best savings rates are not all they might seem
Minister's pension promise to firefighters challenged
Mark Dampier: Maybe boom, maybe bust, but we'll probably just muddle along
- 1 Christmas comes early to Hong Kong, as millions of bank notes spill out onto busy street
- 2 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public can visit police’s grisly crime museum
- 3 British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
- 4 Vagina canoe artist facing two years in jail defends herself over ‘obscenity’ charges
- 5 The Queen’s speech 2014: Recap and Twitter reaction to Game of Thrones reference
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Alex Salmond has 'broken his word to the Scottish people' says Scottish Lib Dem leader
iJobs Money & Business
Highly Competitive: Selby Jennings: Our client, a leading European Oil trading...
£43500 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operatio...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000 + Car + Pension: SThree: SThree are a ...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...
Day In a Page
A three-bedroom villa with self-contained flat, minutes from Lake Windermere
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