You should have listened to us, says Sid

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The Independent Online
The collapse in British Gas's share price was greeted with resignation by some small shareholders, also known as Sids, yesterday. However, many insisted on blaming the company for its past refusal to listen to their complaints.

Others claimed that despite the 27p drop in share prices, down to 201p, most of the company's 1.7 million shareholders would still be better off if the price of gas falls for domestic users.

The Reverend Dennis Nadin, of Harlow, Essex, who was at last year's stormy British Gas annual meeting, said: "This is good news for the consumer, which is my primary concern. Small shareholders, such as myself, will benefit more from the cut in prices than we would have gained if share prices had remained as they are.

"Large shareholders have only themselves to blame for what has happened. They refused to back us in attempting to control the behaviour of the directors last year."

Mr Nadin admitted that he was a somewhat untypical shareholder: "I bought the smallest amount of shares I was entitled to back in 1986 to hand them back in the event of the Labour Party deciding to re-nationalise British Gas.

"Since then, I have held on to the shares to argue for a greater measure of accountability among all public utilities."

Joseph Lamb, a retired physiology professor at St Andrews University, in Scotland, led a 2,000-strong small shareholder revolt at last year's AGM. He said: "I think the whole thing has been badly handled. Personally, I blame Richard Giordano. All the problems appear to have started since he became chairman."

Professor Lamb said that soon after the AGM, his wife Bridget Cook had sold 2,000 British Gas shares she owned for 290p each: "I felt that since I had contributed to the problem that I should keep the 400 I owned."