Exchange slims quorum

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A group representing many of the country's leading stockbroking firms has urged its members to turn up in force to next month's extraordinary meeting of the London Stock Exchange.

They want to prevent the exchange changing the rules, which would allow constitutional changes to be approved by only two firms.

In a letter to member firms Geoffrey Turner, the chief executive of the Association of Private Clients, Investment Managers and Stockbrokers, writes: "Many APCIMS members have deplored the lack of attention that the exchange appears to give to the views of its membership.

"The exchange's AGM/EGM allows you, if you feel that way, to express your views on this and on other matters."

Mr Turner, who declined to make any comment to the Independent, writes that the exchange's plans to reduce its quorum from 10 firms to two "does not seem right to a number of APCIMS members who have telephoned me to ask our view. I agree with them.

"It should not be beyond the wit of the Stock Exchange board and administration to secure the support of 10 different B shareholders to attend their general meetings."

James Capel, Panmure Gordon, Lazard Brothers Asset Management and NatWest Stockbrokers are among APCIMS' membership list for 1995/6.

The Stock Exchange, through its press office, declined to give its reasons for its decision to propose an alteration to article 13.01 of its articles of association, except to say that in making the move it had done everything in accordance with company law.

The intended move has drawn criticism from David Jones, the chief executive of ShareLink, the company that focuses on the needs of the private investor.

Mr Jones, a former Stock Exchange board member, said yesterday: "Instead of changing its rules the London Stock Exchange should ask itself why its members have become so apathetic.

"The exchange has failed to develop private investment in the UK and continues to ignore the interests of the majority of member firms who serve the retail market."

At a recent conference in Glasgow some APCIMS members expressed the view that the exchange, in its efforts to modernise itself for the benefit of institutional shareholders, was in danger of neglecting the concerns of the smaller investor and private client stockbrokers.

Keith Loudon, a senior partner in the stockbroking firm Redmayne Bentley, was especially critical of the exchange's chairman, John Kemp-Welch, who declined to take questions about the future of the exchange from the assembled audience of mainly private client stockbrokers.

According to Mr Turner, the exchange's reason for reducing the number of firms needed for a quorum has been taken "in view of difficulties in obtaining the necessary quorum in the past".

The London Stock Exchange's extraordinary general meeting is scheduled to take place on 13 July.