Dear Editor, You asked for comment from shareholders in West Bromwich Albion Holdings Ltd following the letter on 18th December from C Nickless – “Small shareholders in Baggies losing out “.
Three linked events have exploited the position of the minority shareholders – firstly, the largest shareholder organised a small share purchase which triggered a takeover panel offer at a price we were advised by Grant Thornton not to accept. But this means that the controlling shareholder can now purchase shares at any price, such as at levels people are likely to accept, but there is no obligation to offer this to all holders.
Secondly, the board have allowed an issue of new shares to this same shareholder ( representing approx 10 per cent of the shares in issue) at the same price at which the Panel Offer was made, such as the price Grant Thornton advised was too low and this enabled the controlling shareholder to maintain over 51 per cent after the third event took place.
That final event relates to the consolidation of shares – 10 into one – with a special condition letting holders of under 10 shares the right to subscribe for new shares to get to 10.
Many of the small shareholders, no doubt all loyal fans, could not afford the new shares and so missed out, as pointed out by C Nickless in his letter.
This has been a masterclass in financial engineering with no significant benefit whatsoever to the small shareholders or the club, apart from a minor saving on postage now the number of fans holding shares has been halved.
If the club needed the cash from that share issue in order to survive, then presumably the accounts issued at the same time should have been qualified by the auditors. Otherwise all shareholders could have been offered new shares in a rights issue.
The Board allowed no time for discussion at the recent AGM following questions about these matters. I had asked written questions in advance but was not allowed to respond to the formal replies.
WBA has always been a family friendly organisation with a hugely loyal fan and shareholder base. It is very depressing to watch all this changing and to watch the position of minority shareholders being ambushed.
Peter M Wall,
Westfield Road, Edgbaston
The challenge facing care homes
Dear Editor, Westminster are busy creating yet more new strategies to improve services to frail and vulnerable older people.
The most important, I believe, is that for End of Life Care. They’ve acknowledged that care homes lead the way in this area and are where older people receive some of the best end of life care.
As an owner of care homes, it is a new feeling to hear care homes being referred to as an example of quality, rather than always being presented as the service that needs to improve.
The majority of care homes are high quality and deliver essential support, but this is seldom recognised, acknowledged or championed by the media or society as a whole.
One of the many challenges that care homes face is to make the transition between life and death as positive as possible not only for our residents, but for their relatives and friends and our staff.
This is no easy task and one where traditional health services are often at their most ill at ease because a death in hospital is often seen as a failure.
I sincerely hope that the End of Life strategy being rolled out across the health and social care system will enhance this inevitable experience for many more of us.
Dave Lock (Adept Care Group)
Duggins Lane, Tile Hill, Coventry
Will there ever be another Watergate?
Dear Editor, I have just been watching All The Presidents Men on DVD and heard about Deep Throat’s death on a Friday news item. What is most salient about The Watergate Scandal is that any nation at whatever stage of their politcal history has the potential to turn into a banana republic and totalitarian state overnight.
In Irving Wallace’s 1964 book called The Man, the “fictionalised” story about the election of the first black President of the USA, he quotes from an old document held by a former negro slave, adviser to Abraham Lincoln and candidate for vice-president called Frederick Douglas. It reads:
“In a composite nation like ours, made up of almost every variety of human family, there should be, as before the law, no rich, no poor, no high, no low, no black, no white, but one country, one citizenship, equal rights and a common destiny for all.
“A government that cannot or does not protect the humblest citizen in his right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, should be reformed or overthrown, without delay.”
Whether Nixon, the two journalists Woodward and Bernstein or Deep Throat ever knew of the above quote is open to conjecture in today’s world, but I feel everyone who doesn’t know about it now, should do in every way.
Funnily enough during the Watergate scandal in America there was a seperate scandal going on in Britain which was taking up columns in every newspaper inch and TV show in the land. The villain of the piece came from my home town of Walsall and was John Stonehouse MP. I put on a popular exhibition about him in October 2002 at Walsall Central Library.
John stole money and then faked his death during November/December 1974 and when he was eventually arrested in Australia in 1975, he was ironically mistaken for the missing peer Lord Lucan. Lucan had dissapeared around the same time.
My big question is and always will be this – would today’s media in the US or UK have the guts to pursue investigative journalism right up to the wire if it meant bringing down the most powerful person within that country ?
PS – Merry Christmas and keep up the good work.
Thornbury Road, Walsall