PLUS Markets: the accusations fly

As the tragic story of PLUS Markets wearily trudges on, a main investor has described the proposed payments to directors of £482,000, based on the sale of the business to Icap for £1 as “at best dishonourable.” The Amara Dhari Investment Group, which own 17%, is also questioning the near £1m professional fees which the Board has spent. The matter will be voted on at the General Meeting in two week’s time.

In an open letter to Cyril Theret, the Chief Executive of PLUS Markets, published on  a shareholder, Mr Jennings, asked a number of questions including the following:

  • can you confirm that you have a job/consultancy arranged with Icap?
  • are you prepared to make public details of Amara Dhari’s offer to inject £2m into the company at just under 1p only a few months ago and that we understand you turned down as not offering sufficient a premium.
  • can you confirm that other interested parties have indeed made new approaches in recent days and at meaningful higher levels.

The market this week has been rife with rumour and accusation. If the resolutions are passed (as is likely) and if the FSA approve Icap as the new owners, life will move on.

When PLUS Markets several years ago achieved Recognised Investment Exchange (“RIE”) it is likely that they would have to submit a business plan and financial forecasts. It would be interesting to now know how wrong they were and why the Financial Services Authority (“FSA”) left it so late in the day to take action. PLUS Markets have made huge trading losses and wasted vast sums on product development that generated little revenue income.

Will the FSA allow the directors to continue working at senior level in the regulated financial sector? Their track record suggests that they should be restricted to supervised positions.

I have made a continuous criticism of PLUS Markets and on this blog time and again put forward alternative strategies that could have generated shareholder value.

The Treasury continued to the end to say it was a matter for shareholders.

Shareholders have lost almost everything and Britain has lost the contribution of a growth market at a time it was so needed.

We’ll move on. It’s always the way. But it’s a sad story without a happy ending.

1 comment for “PLUS Markets: the accusations fly

  1. Richard Hoblyn
    6 June, 2012 at 09:15

    Tony, As you know the whole problem started back in 1986 with “Big Bang” and the entrance of large capitalistic players like the investment banks from US. Winding the clock fast forward to today the markets are basically a “Free For All” whereby the whole concept of a free self-regulated market environment being run by constituent members safeguarding the interests of investors and shareholders has been replaced by a wholesaling operation in which the only winners today are unanswerable regulators and compliance personnel & often investment banks who have created the pseudo-fraudulent packages that inter-broker dealers like ICap have managed to trade off. I’d like to know how any responsible regulator can allow an organisation such as ICap to buy an exchange that is driven mainly by retail investors (admittedly sporadic) when ICap itself is position driven and deals exclusively against the private investment market. Despite the obvious firepower that Spencer has at his disposal I cannot see how this acquisition can be vindicated by any responsible regulator. Having seen the recent documentaries on Billingsgate and Smithfield it seems to me that governments need to remind themselves how markets evolve and should be managed. Even the LSE has distanced itself from its bit part players. This is NOT how capitalism is supposed to work. Surely a tidy merger with AIM would suffice combined with an AIM overhaul would be much more sensible. As for payouts then they should be challenged mercilessly.

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