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EXCLUSIVE: Ascent CEO Colin Hutchinson with latest on review and permitting Watch Here

EXCLUSIVE: Ascent CEO Colin Hutchinson with latest on review and permitting

Eric Chalker's Blog - RSS Feed

Eric Chalker's Blog


Having the rug pulled out.

Infrastructure funds took a hammering last autumn, when the possibility of a Corbyn Labour government was seen to threaten punitive nationalisation of their assets.  Many income seeking private investors might be worried about this, but others might not, so it’s a matter of choice.  Except for those in the John Laing Infrastructure Fund, though, whose choice has been made for them.

Seeing the sharp share price fall, opportunistic institutional investors have seized their chance and made a bid.  As is so often the case these days, JLIF directors have not only succumbed for their own handful of shares, but have been persuaded to recommend that all JLIF investors should accept the bid too.  This means it will be given effect under Part 26 of the Companies Act, which almost guarantees that the bid will succeed.  This is despite the fact that in the opinion of some, including the eminent Lex column in the Financial Times, “The threat of nationalisation is overblown and this takeover is underpriced.


Blog Calendar


The Feeble Financial Reporting Council

 In 7 years of dealing with the FRC on behalf of the UK Shareholders’ Association, it was at best a disappointment.  Over time, I came to see it as wholly unhelpful to the needs of private investors and even hostile to them.  Now, at the request of the government, it is being examined by Sir John Kingman.


Current audit practice is valueless

“The evidence suggests that audit quality is not up to the level expected by private investors.”  These were my words, in response to a brief survey of UK Shareholders’ Association members prior to a recent half day presentation by PwC on how its audits are conducted.  These and similar comments by other members were reported, but not addressed, in PwC’s presentation.


The scandal behind Beaufort Insecurities

 At the beginning of March, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) put stockbroker Beaufort Securities and its custodian BSL into insolvency.  As a consequence, many personal investors have lost access to their assets.  For most of them this will continue for much longer and some will suffer significant financial loss. 


Insulting behaviour at Interserve plc

 Some boards of directors reach out to their private investors.  Others demonstrate contempt.  The latest shocking example of the latter coming to my notice is the board of Interserve plc, chaired by Mr Glyn Barker.  It has called a meeting for 8.0 am (yes, really), one purpose of which is to exonerate directors for a breach of the company’s rules.


EMIS Group plc

 This is a company in which, as I write, I hold some shares.  They were bought on a professional recommendation and that source (plus one other) is currently saying ‘hold’, but I’m not sure I will.  The share price suffered a sharp fall in January, from which it has yet to recover and the question is, have the reasons for this been adequately addressed and all appropriate action taken?


Investing for children

It is a natural human desire to bestow money on children and grandchildren.  How best to do so can seem challenging.  There are ‘products’ available to make it seem easy, but these come with disadvantages and, in my opinion, should be avoided.  These include Junior ISAs and all forms of ‘bare trust’ that automatically give large sums of money to 18 year olds.


What do you get if your SIPP or ISA provider goes bust?

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has been reviewing this question, but the answer just now is, “Less than you might want.”  It will depend, of course, on how much you lose, but if you have to resort to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) there are compensation limits.  The maximum compensation for lost cash is £85,000, which might seem adequate.  But for company shares which you think you own and then discover you don’t, the maximum claim is for £50,000, which could be very inadequate indeed. 

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