A Bouquet and a Brickbat

ShareSoc’s fundamental mission is to improve the landscape for the individual investor in UK shares. One aspect of this is levelling the playing field between individual and institutional investors with respect to access to corporate managements and business strategy presentations.

AGMs are a key opportunity for managements to do this, as they are open to all shareholders equally. To that end, ShareSoc has published a guide for companies on how to run AGMs in a shareholder friendly manner (and for attendees on what to expect and how to behave). Readers will observe that sensible start times, providing presentations at AGMs and publicising what will be provided are key recommendations for companies arranging their AGMs.

In order to further our aim, ShareSoc will seek to publicise those instances where companies do well and where they do not, to encourage them to follow our guidelines and best practice. We will also publicise cases where companies hold “capital markets days” and do or don’t make them accessible to individual shareholders. It is extremely annoying when companies announce such events either on the day they are being held or, sometimes, even after they have taken place! In those cases clearly only a “select few” will have been invited – the opposite of a level playing field.

There were two contrasting illustrations this week. Firstly, on a positive note, Haywood Tyler (AIM:HAYT) have announced an enticing AGM and site visit: http://www.investegate.co.uk/hayward-tyler-group–hayt-/rns/site-visit-and-notice-of-agm/201607060700063412D/ Though the start time for the AGM (held at the company’s HQ in Luton) is a little earlier than we’d ideally like to see, this is compensated for by the company offering a tour of their factory there and a presentation. This is to be applauded, as is the company giving timely publicity to these events. Anyone interested in attending should contact the company’s advisers, as indicated in the RNS.

Turning to the “brickbat”, Plastics Capital (AIM:PLA) have been holding their AGMs at ever earlier times. This week they announced that this year’s AGM was to be held at 9:00am, at a location which will not be particularly easy for investors to reach. As no presentation has been announced either, I expect attendance will be very poor, making the AGM a much less useful occasion and rubber-stamping exercise. Must try harder!

Mark Bentley

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