In accordance with the schedule of matters reserved to the Board and the Code, the Board has responsibility for ensuring effective communication takes place with all shareholders and it considers carefully all major announcements to the market. Relations with shareholders are managed mainly by the Chief Executive, Finance Director and director of investor relations. Meetings are held regularly throughout the year with institutional investors, fund managers and analysts to discuss the public disclosures and announcements made by the Company.
The Chairman also writes to major shareholders following the announcement of the Company’s preliminary and half year results to offer them the opportunity to meet with him, the Senior Independent Director or any of the Non-executive Directors. This enables major shareholders to take up with these individuals any issue they feel unable to raise with the Chief Executive or Finance Director. Major shareholders are also invited to meet newly appointed Directors.
In order that all Board members are aware of and understand the views of shareholders about the Company, the Board receives feedback on shareholders’ views from the Company’s brokers, supported by the director of investor relations. Analysts’ notes on the Company are also circulated regularly to Directors.
The Company considers it has a strong level of engagement with its major shareholders and expects to build on this with the future publication of the Stewardship Code for Institutional Investors.
Issues relevant to our smaller shareholders are also considered by the Board. During the year ended 31 March 2010, the Company offered initiatives such as a dividend reunification programme which traces shareholders who have not cashed dividends, a low cost share dealing service for sales and purchases, and the shareholder networking programme. Twice a year, this programme offers retail shareholders the opportunity to understand further the Company’s operations through site visits and meetings with Directors and senior managers. Following shareholder approval at the 2009 AGM, the Company offered a Scrip Dividend Scheme under which shareholders could acquire additional shares in the Company without being subject to dealing costs or stamp duty reserve tax. Further details of these initiatives are available in Useful information.