Outlook: The way ahead for the RAC

IF YOU ARE thinking of trying to carpetbag the Royal Automobile Club, where spoils of anything between pounds 20,000 and pounds 40,000 per member could be on offer in the event of demutualisation, forget it. The waiting list to join the club in Pall Mall, with its sister golf course at Woodcote Park, is six months long and to gain acceptance, you need to be proposed by two of the club's existing 12,000 members. Given that any addition to the membership would be dilutive, no one will be rushing to propose you.

The RAC has had Dresdner Kleinwort Benson and Slaughter & May examining the possibilities for a float for around 12 months now, but it has taken the precipitous action of Jeffrey Rose, the now deposed chairman, in appealing to members over the head of the board, to bring matters to a head. According to Mr Rose, he got fed up with waiting for the board to make up its mind. Without telling fellow directors, he therefore wrote to members inviting them to requisition a meeting and get everything moving.

This they appear only too glad to do, so the board really had no option but to cave in, as it did yesterday, and promise a full consultation on demutualisation. The way in which this all this came about bears revisiting. The RAC began life as a cosy Pall Mall social and sports club for the early enthusiasts of the automobile. In time it developed the motoring services arm which most of us now recognise as the RAC.

Perhaps oddly, given that it is owned by a club in Pall Mall, this has evolved into a highly successful commercial enterprise with nearly 6 million customers, or associate members. It has fewer members than its arch rival, the AA, but it is generally considered to have been very much more innovative and switched on in recent years. The RAC's constitution is sufficiently complex for there to be room for doubt, but on the face of it these associate members have no voting or ownership rights. These lie entirely with members of the Pall Mall club.

None the less, it is reasonable to have some sympathy for the dithering way in which the board and the company have dealt with the matter thus far. Associate members are going to be mighty pissed off with the idea of further enriching a lot of fusty old masons propping up the bar in Pall Mall if there's nothing in it for them. In establishing a flotation mechanism, then, the board has to ensure there's something for the customer too, or they might just desert to the competition.

In other words, the issues are not quite as clear cut as Mr Rose would like us to believe. How the board is going to resolve these conflicts is anyone's guess. One for Andrew Regan of Co-op fame, perhaps. In this case, free car parking could presumably be arranged for the handing over of confidential documents. But then again, perhaps not.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
News
Robert De Niro has walked off the set of Edge of Darkness
news The Godfather Part II actor has an estimated wealth of over $200m
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Sport
Robbie Savage will not face a driving ban
football
Voices
voices
Life and Style
Nearly half of all young people in middle and high income countries were putting themselves at risk of tinnitus and, in extreme cases, irreversible hearing loss
health Nearly half of all young people in middle and high income countries are at risk of tinnitus
News
It was only when he left his post Tony Blair's director of communications that Alastair Campbell has published books
people The most notorious spin doctor in UK politics has reinvented himself
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in ‘I Am Michael’
filmJustin Kelly's latest film tells the story of a man who 'healed' his homosexuality and turned to God
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: HR Benefits Manager

£40000 - £50000 per annum + pro rata: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager / Financial Services

£30000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established in 1999, a highly r...

Jemma Gent: Year End Accountant

£250-£300 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Are you a qualified accountant with strong exp...

Jemma Gent: Management Accountant

£230 - £260 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Do you want to stamp your footprint in histo...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower