Continuing its investigation into the quality of the top 100 AIM companies’ annual reports, the UK Shareholders’ Association finds uncertainties in the Abcam report and an astonishing but unexplained waste of shareholders’ money by Hargreaves Services’ directors.
Looking at the top of the AIM 100, the team has reached Abcam (number 3 in 2015 and 2016) and at the bottom Hargreaves Services (98 in 2015 but now disqualified).
The Abcam annual report and accounts are “far too long and full of convoluted market-speak which often verges on the opaque.” So complex are its pay arrangements that 23 pages are required to explain them; as the team comments, “It can be no accident that the longer a remuneration report is the less likely it is to be read, which is one reason why boardroom pay reaches the heights it does. Abcam should simplify its arrangements.”
Although Hargreaves Services hopes to reposition and broaden its activities, its coal business is inevitably declining, so it is hardly surprising that the share price has been falling. This company’s directors, like many others, thought they knew where the fall would stop, but unsurprisingly they didn’t. Last year’s share buy-back wasted £4.3m of shareholders’ money, since when the interim dividend has had to be cut by more than four-fifths.