There will be few raucous cheers this morning across the 2.5 million breakfast tables where private shareholders in HBOS read the news that their chief executive, James Crosby, plans to hand back to them £1 billion of capital instead of the £750 million he had promised before.
They know better than to expect a cheque in the post. They have been here before.
Mr Crosby, like most chief executives in the fortunate position of having surplus capital to return, deploy the money to buy back shares in the market. They rarely post cheques for a special dividend.
There are quite good reasons for this. Special dividends come out of capital, which already belongs to the shareholders. But Gordon Brown counts it as income and pockets up to 40p in the pound.
The Chancellor gets less, later, and by circuitous routes if the money is spent on a buy-back.
But personal shareholders like Mr Crosby's 2.5 million often feel that they have missed out altogether. The cheques go to those City institutions who opt to sell when the company is buying. The remaining shareholders benefit because their holdings represent a bigger slice of the company and should command a higher price than they would without the buy-back. Those who want cash can always sell in the market.
Come the year-end, the company pays a fatter dividend per share because there are fewer shares - and there is no escaping the tax on that.
In theory, the effect is the same. So is the underlying reality. It just doesn't feel like it to a private shareholder. When the stock market turns bad and the shares fall, it is scant consolation to be told that they would have fallen further still without the buyback. If they go up you feel they would have gone up anyway.
Few chief executives worry about this. They may have a few thousand private shareholders, or tens of thousands. But these are not the shareholders who count.
They may make a fuss at the annual meeting. But they are outvoted overwhelmingly by proxies from the institutions. Mr Crosby's 2.5 million are something else, though.
Most are Halifax customers who received shares when it ceased to be a building society. They have kept their shares and in all likelihood they still have a mortgage with Halifax, an ISA, or a savings account.
In a word, they matter. Mr Crosby knows this. When he merged Halifax with the Bank of Scotland, he arranged it with an elaborate corporate restructuring that enabled him to send his shareholders a very useful cheque - tax-free.
You cannot keep on doing that.
Anyway Mr Crosby is wary of acquisitions and it would need to be quite a special one to improve HBOS's present return on capital.
Yet surely some mighty mind can devise a way to pass buy-back money to private shareholders. Perhaps distribute a form for those who want cash to sign saying "If, in the course of the next six months, the company offers to buy back shares at more than (such and such a price) I would like to sell (a number) of my shares".