What a week or so it has been for NMC Health. Back on 10 February, the company put out an RNS stating that its joint chair and founder Dr. B. R. Shetty was undertaking a review to establish the extent of his shareholding in the company, along with that of family members. It also stated that this review might also involve other shareholders’ interests. T he guts of the RNS reveal that shares in NMC held in a nominee account in the name of B. R. Shetty at Falcon Bank were transferred to a nominee account in the same name at First Abu Dhabi BankRead More →

It’s hardly news that plant-based alternatives to meat are becoming a big thing. With major chains like Burger King and KFC trying out meat alternatives, it’s safe to say that this is becoming thoroughly mainstream. Whilst some consumers are seeking out alternatives to meat because of ethical and/or environmental concerns, a growing number are also shifting to so-called ’flexi-tarian’ diets that reduce the amount of meat consumption. The peak cultural reference point for the UK indicating the size of the shift was the decision of Greggs to introduce a vegan sausage roll. We appear to have reached the inflection point at which people moaning aboutRead More →

Is the future of Responsible Investment going to be a much more private affair? An interesting recent snippet in The Sunday Times pointed to a wider issue affecting the way investors engage with companies – the decline of publicly traded businesses. The piece in The Sunday Times cited research by the Quoted Companies Alliance and broker Peel Hunt which found a majority of asset managers were concerned by the decline in the number of PLCs, which reduced the range of shares they could buy and hit market liquidity. The article noted that the number of IPOs had fallen in recent years, with just 36 companiesRead More →

Fresh into a new decade, and there are already signs that this year will see a further growth in forceful stewardship by institutional investors. For example, if we rewound to the start of the last decade the conventional wisdom was that using shareholder resolutions was an extreme form of engagement. Few large UK investors wanted to get involved in filing them, and votes in favour of ESG-oriented resolutions were generally low. If we can be excused a little toot on our own trumpet, we have always advocated the use of shareholder resolutions in order to make the AGM agenda more reflective of investors’ priorities, notRead More →

Controversial transport tech giant Uber hit another bump in the regulatory road this week when Transport for London (TfL) declined to grant the company a new private hire operator’s licence in response to its latest application. TfL said that while Uber has made a number of positive changes and improvements to its culture, leadership and systems in the period since the Chief Magistrate granted it a licence in June 2018 it has identified a pattern of failures by the company including several breaches that placed passengers and their safety at risk. Despite addressing some of these issues, TfL said it does not have confidence thatRead More →

Beleaguered construction and services business Kier Group’s AGM last week threw up a number of interesting issues. Since the failure of both Carillion and Interserve, the company has been both watched closely and shorted heavily. Following on from a flopped rights issue around this time last year, Kier Group has changed personnel and sought to steady the ship. In that context, last week’s meeting was probably unhelpful. Most attention has focused on the remuneration report vote, which the company narrowly lost with almost 54% voting against. But arguably more significant was the announcement, on the day of the AGM, that its chief operating officer, ClaudioRead More →

Here’s something that may surprise a few people. We genuinely find what Tim Martin has to say about corporate governance worth listening to (personal attacks aside). You can’t work in this field for as long as we have without recognising some of the limitations of the ways of looking at companies through a governance framework. And criticisms of our approach obviously have more weight when they come from those who have created successful businesses that continue to do well. We also value having contrarian voices in the market. We would rather that business leaders speak out than give into a consensus that they don’t reallyRead More →

It’s that time again when the battle lines are drawn, opposing camps martial their arguments against each other and people are forced to choose who gets their vote. We’re talking, of course, about voting in pooled funds. Last week saw the Association of Member Nominated Trustees (AMNT) reiterate its call for this issue to be tackled by regulators. We wholeheartedly agree. The status quo is a corporate governance rotten borough. An unrepresentative electorate commands the vast bulk of the voting power. It’s time for reform. We know from our own analysis of both manager voting and clients’ ESG policies that there can be huge differencesRead More →

It’s over eight years since the revelation that the News of the World had been involved in hacking the phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler. That news set off a chain reaction that saw the newspaper close, numerous journalists arrested, Rupert and James Murdoch summoned to face a grilling in parliament, News Corp’s bid for BSkyB pulled (and the opportunity ultimately lost forever), senior police offers resign and the Leveson Inquiry launched (if not completed). As the fallout spread, not only News Corp started racking up multi-million costs, but other media groups including Trinity Mirror (now Reach PLC) caught up. The scandal revealed that someRead More →

The second part of this week’s Panorama investigation into the Woodford scandal focused on Capital Group fund manager Mark Denning and a fund that appears to have taken positions in some companies in which Capital was also an investor. Denning has left Capital, but has strenuously denied any wrong-doing. The fund named by Panorama as being at the centre of the trades it questioned is Morebath. A quick trawl of filings shows that Morebath was indeed an investor alongside Capital in Aus-listed medical firm Mesoblast and Bollywood film producer Eros. PIRC has also found that Morebath took some positions that were big enough to triggerRead More →