RD:IR Client Testimonials: Delivering exceptional IR services for over thirteen years!

We are proud to work with a range of fantastic companies, including UK and international corporates, across the entire market capitalisation spectrum; UK investment trusts; corporate brokers; and other corporate intermediaries.

A number of these clients have employed RD:IR’s investor relations services right from the company’s inception in 2002 and for that, we are delighted and humbled.

We currently act for over 630 clients, both directly, and indirectly via stockbrokers and investment managers. The service we provide our clients has been described as “exceptional”, “impeccable”,”comprehensive” and “professional”.The testimonials below, elaborate on the type of service provided and how satisfied the respective client has been.

These are just a small selection, to read them in full please visit our dedicated testimonials page on the website:

 

“We have long been supporters of RD:IR, in fact from their inception, and use a range of their services. We believe they provide some of the best share register analysis in the industry which gives us confidence when using the data at board level and also for investor targeting. On top of this, the team are always approachable, helpful and professional, all of which makes RD:IR a pleasure to be associated with.”

Shelley Fishwick, Aberdeen Asset Management plc

 

“RD:IR’s team ran a very useful targeting exercise which has been the basis for our investor targeting refresh.”

Gary Leibowitz, SABMiller plc
 
 

“We find the IR InTouch platform an invaluable CRM tool especially with regards to recording all our meetings and notes. The system produces insightful roadshow packs which incorporate all share register and peer analysis information, which are useful for our busy meeting schedules. We have also started using the offline meeting function, allowing the recording of notes in an efficient and user friendly manner even on the move. Additionally, with a focused investor base on the CRM platform, we know we can reach thousands of relevant investors, globally, at a touch of a button.”

Lisa Williams, Debenhams plc
 
 

“I am a serial customer –  I cannot imagine running my IR function without the support of RD:IR on the share register analysis and CRM fronts. They are incredibly easy to deal with, they really understand the way IR works, including the pressures. They pitch their services at the sweet spot between responsive and proactive. Their information is clear and comprehensive.”

Jill Sherratt, AA plc
 
 

“I have used RD:IR’s proxy solicitation service through two acquisitions and strongly recommend them. The team was very supportive and the analysis comprehensive. I was very impressed with how they ran the process in each instance and I was kept fully informed at every stage.”

Tanya Hitchens, IR Consultant to Oil & Gas Sector
 
 
To understand further how RD:IR can help enhance your IR strategy, please contact Sarah Blackshaw on +44 20 7492 0500 or sarah.blackshaw@rdir.com
 
 
 

Richard Davies looks back over three decades of Investor Relations

 
After three decades in IR, including two years as the Chair of the IR Society, RD:IR’s Managing Director, Richard Davies, believes that though the IR industry has come far, there is still a long way to go.

 

Summary

  • Technological change has driven faster, cheaper and more accurate data
  • IROs are better qualified than ever
  • Regulatory changes have had huge effects on the capital markets
  • The sell-side is here to stay, despite what some people think
  • Companies with dedicated IROs typically perform better

 

The best thing about working in the IR industry is the constant change, which provides both challenge and opportunity. This is matched by the continuity in the profession of the striving towards better practice. Looking back over the last 27 years of my time in the sector, I see much that has changed and much that has stayed the same. The most startling developments have, of course, been in the area of technology, with the impact of faster processing speeds in computing and the arrival of the internet. Many readers will find it difficult to imagine a time before digital and, indeed, I find it difficult to believe that we used to perform so much data entry and analysis manually in the late 80s. I started my IR career creating one of the first share register analysis systems, which was a spin-off of a hard copy publication I was hired to edit, The Index of Nominees & their Beneficial Owners. This directory of nominee companies and the funds they represented became a minor City classic, which I still get asked about, 15 years after its final edition was published. The early iterations were researched using fiches from Companies House, telephone calls to nominee companies and inspections of often hand-written or typed registers of beneficial owners, derived from interrogation under the old Companies Act Section 212 legislation (now known as s793). We went on to use this painstaking research (further augmented by fund-to-fund manager researched linkages) to analyse share registers, which arrived in hard copy format in piles of boxes, which we sifted and entered manually into computers the size of a desk. Analysis which now takes seconds, with electronic registers and sophisticated data processing, took days in some cases – and the fees reflected this.

Big data

The commoditisation and universalisation of data has certainly been a key change in the IR and financial services industry. Today’s IRO has easy access to information that would have been unimaginable 30 years ago. The challenge remains, however, in understanding how data should be used efficiently and strategically. It is a cliché in the industry to point out that IR is now taken more seriously by company boards but this is, of course, true. IR has become more professionalised in the UK, partly due to the impact of the IR Society. Gone are the days when fund managers and analysts would only speak to senior management, largely due to the rise in financial competence of the average IR officer (although I am not of the opinion that IROs necessarily have to be ex-analysts to have gravitas).

Disrupted industry

A major change, which historical significance in total, like the French Revolution according to Zhou Enlai, has yet to be fully understood, has been the forced unbundling of broker fees to fund managers for corporate access and research. I suspect that this is only the beginning of a deeper and wider disruption of financial services as market Darwinianism and internet technology scythe their way in months through centuries-old relationships in the City. There are so many other changes to the way that the capital markets operate that have impacted on the world of IR, all of which we now take for granted: internationalisation and consolidation of the asset management sector; the rise of hedge funds and proprietary trading; the impact of EU regulation (for example, MiFIDs 1 & 2); high-frequency trading and dark pools; the rise of Asia and other emerging markets as part of the globalisation process; the increase in interest in governance and the commensurate rise in importance of the proxy advisory agencies.

Big banks are here to stay

While so much has changed, so much has stayed the same. It is a rather wonderful aspect of the IR market that many of the market players of 27 years ago are still in place, whether as companies or IRO professionals. The young bucks of the 80s are now part of the IR establishment, albeit with greyer hair and expanded waistlines (including this writer). The arguments about companies needing to be pro-active about their equity marketing strategy are as true now as they were then, if not more so. People have decried the end of the sellside since I started work in the City. It hasn’t happened yet and will not happen for some years to come: there are too many vested interests. The major investment banks will be part of the scene for the foreseeable future and life for larger companies in terms of the services they receive therefrom will go on much as usual for the time being. Given the changes in the research and corporate access fee model that the recent FCA and forthcoming MiFID changes precipitate, my concern relates to the funding of small- and mid-cap public companies. Growth companies are the basis of a healthy public company market, where investors, retail and institutional, can invest in entities which are subject to market scrutiny, unlike the private equity market, where the only real oversight is provided by the auditor. Many of our current large-cap companies started life as small-caps but I wonder how many would achieve the same growth under today’s capital market conditions.

The role of the IRO

We have come very far in the IR industry in the UK but there is still a long way to go. Many UK public companies still do not see the need for a dedicated IR professional. Even those companies that do employ an IR officer may not take a pro-active approach to marketing their equity. The UK IR industry includes some of the world’s leading IR professionals, running sophisticated processes and strategies, utilising a mix of data and consultancy to take their company’s equity story to the global marketplace. On the other hand, there are companies that still do not consider IR to be important or which rely totally on a lacklustre broker with no interest in promoting their equity. The most exciting aspect of my last 27 years in the IR world is that I see that the former category is growing and the latter is shrinking. Research shows that companies which do not perform IR so well tend to disappear faster than those that do. In my experience, it was always thus and I am sure this will continue to be true. I wish the IR Society a very happy 35th birthday. I am delighted to have been part of its history. I look forward to the future of the Society and of the global IR market as we all embrace change and challenge. 

 

Richard wrote this article as a contribution to the IR Society’s 35th anniversary celebratory edition of Informed Magazine. A copy of the magazine can be downloaded on the Society’s website here.

RD:IR Sponsors Best Communication Award at the AIM Awards 2015

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We are pleased to announce our involvement with this year’s AIM Awards, now in its twentieth year. The event will take place on the evening of Thursday 8th October 2015 at Old Billingsgate in the City of London and RD:IR will be sponsoring the ‘Best Communication Award’.

Each year the AIM ‘club’ gathers to celebrate outstanding achievement on the world’s most successful growth market. Sponsored by PwC, the Awards identify the quoted companies and entrepreneurs who have harnessed AIM to help them fulfil their ambition and growth potential in the last twelve months.

 

1H 2015 RD:IR Proxy Round-Up

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The UK M&A market saw an upturn in 2014 and this positive momentum continued into the beginning of 2015. RD:IR in turn began the year by carrying out two M&A proxy solicitation campaigns, the first for Salamander Energy plc and the second for Friends Life Group Ltd.

Salamander Energy plc, a FTSE 250 Asia-focused oil exploration company, reached an agreement to be acquired by Ophir Energy plc in an all share deal in November 2014, to be effected by a Court-sanctioned scheme of arrangement. The scheme required the approval of Salamander shareholders at both a court meeting and a general meeting in February. Our campaign to Salamander institutional investors helped ensure the successful passing of all resolutions at both meetings, with a large majority of 95% of Salamander shareholders voting in favour of the takeover.

Continuing the M&A trend, Aviva plc agreed to buy Friends Life Group Ltd in December 2014 in an all-share deal between the two FTSE 100 companies. The deal, worth £5.6bn, created the largest UK insurance deal since 2000.

RD:IR conducted a proxy solicitation campaign to Friends Life institutional shareholders to ensure maximum voting. This resulted in more than 99.9% of Friends Life shareholders voting at the general meeting to support the deal, which overwhelmingly passed the 75% threshold required for the two companies to combine.

During the AGM proxy season RD:IR was pleased to provide proxy and corporate governance services to a number of clients, among them: Tullow Oil plc, bwin.party digital entertainment plc and Faroe Petroleum plc.  

If you wish to enquire further about our shareholder communication services please contact Yolande Lundy (Proxy Research Manager) on yolande.lundy@rdir.com / +44 20 7492 0527

RD:IR competes in the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge 2015

A 15-strong RD:IR team entered the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge on Wednesday 8th July 2015.

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There were near perfect conditions for the 5.6k run around Battersea Park and the planned strike action did little to affect the event or atmosphere. Each team member completed the race in a respectable time, with Peter Challis leading the charge for the boys with a time of 24.58 and Tom O’Grady a close second with 26.13. Sarah McKenzie (former RD:IR employee, now RD:IR client via Britvic plc) led for the girls, completing the course in a speedy 28.33.

Finishers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The turnout was fantastic, with over 14,000 runners participating on the evening and hundreds of Corporates represented. 

A full report of the event can be found on the event website here.

Post-event, J.P. Morgan will make a donation on behalf of all entrants to their chosen charity this year, Age UK.

RD:IR continued their fundraising for Save the Children and raised a total of £280 in sponsorship money.

IR Magazine Awards – Europe 2015

The evening of Tuesday 30th June saw the annual ‘IR Magazine Awards – Europe’ take place at The Troxy in London’s East End. Hosted by broadcaster and journalist Jeremy Vine, the event attracted the cream of IR teams from across Europe.

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Each year the Awards are designed to celebrate the successes of individuals and companies that are leading the way in the IR community. The ‘Categories’ and ‘Best in Sector’ awards pit IR teams and individuals on a pan-European level and additionally, ‘Regional’ awards are available for companies which are deemed to have shone that year in their respective regions. The winners are identified by research collected from the investment community in the six months leading up to the event by IR Magazine.

The big winner on the night was Danish multinational pharmaceutical company, Novo Nordisk, whose IR team picked up the grand prix for best overall investor relations (large cap), in addition to best financial reporting, best sustainability practice, best in sector for healthcare and the regional award for Northern Europe. 

Several of RD:IR’s clients were shortlisted for awards and we were thrilled when the IR team at BT Group plc won the sector award for Technology and Communications. 

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Pictured here: BT’s Damien Maltarp & Evelyne Bull with RD:IR’s Senior IR Consultant Philippe Ronceau

A full list of winners can be found on the IR Magazine website here.

 

 

The Divestment Movement: Where do Investors Stand?

WHITE PAPER

Discover where investors stand on climate change and the divestment movement by downloading our White Paper at the bottom of this post. You can also discover how RD:IR can overlay your ownership information on our proprietary investor relations platform, IR InTouch, with insight into the ESG principles of your investors.

  • The divestment movement has gathered considerable traction over the past year and it is forcing investors to evaluate their position on fossil fuel investments. 
  • As world leaders prepare to meet in Paris in December this year for the annual UN Climate Change Conference COP 21, stakeholders hope that a global carbon pricing system will result to guide policy and planning for carbon dioxide emissions reductions.
  • The role of investors is evolving; many see both a moral case and a superior investment case for companies with sustainable business plans involving less carbon extraction and less carbon consumption.
  • Investors are looking to understand their carbon exposure and develop strategies to reduce, offset and hedge against risk without relinquishing engagement opportunities.
  • Companies must be aware of shareholder sentiment, initiatives and research, as well as possible regulatory changes, in order to communicate effectively with investors.

Download Paper here:

The Divestment Movement – Where do Investors Stand – RDIR

IR Society Corporate Governance Review Seminar

As moderator for yesterday’s IR Society seminar focusing on current trends in Corporate Governance, Richard Davies assembled a superb panel of speakers to address the 40-strong audience. 

Corporate Governance

Beginning with experts from corporate governance trade bodies, Will Pomroy, Policy Lead: Corporate Governance & Stewardship at NAPF, opened the seminar with discussion of Pension Funds and Environmental Social Governance (ESG).

Pension Funds (PFs) outsource management to Investment Managers, but are still very keen to ensure that they carry out stewardship responsibilities as asset owners – by making their own informed voting decisions, for example. NAPF have been facilitating communication between the PFs and their Investment Managers – through Stewardship Accountability forums – to emphasise what is important to them. Perhaps surprisingly, in a recent survey conducted by the NAPF, 90% of PFs agreed that ESG factors have a material effect on investments.

The Investment Association’s (IMA), Director of Corporate Governance & Engagement, Andrew Ninian, revealed that whilst Remuneration has dominated discussions in recent years, issues surrounding Board effectiveness are one of the largest agendas facing the IMA today. He stressed the need for long-term decisions to be made by the right people on a company’s Board and that this is crucial to its investors. Ninian also spoke about the increasing requirement for diversity within Boards and a requirement for a matrix of skills. He described a pressing concern pertaining to the lack of ‘Board-ready’ candidates available to ‘step up’, and suggested companies need to be more willing to expose their senior executives to Board activity and decisions, in order to prepare them for Director roles. He emphasised the importance of the role of the Chairman, referring to the position as the ‘lynchpin’ of the Board and that ultimately, the Chair is responsible for the cohesiveness of the Board.

George Dallas, Policy Director at ICGN (International Corporate Governance Network), an investor-led membership body, spoke about the role of ICGN in fostering partnerships between companies and investors, rather than seeing the relationship as ‘us and them’. The ICGN operates a number of policy committees and is at the forefront of governance thinking: it produces frequent ‘Viewpoint reports’ on topical governance themes

Peter Swabey, Policy & Research Director of ICSA (Institute of Chartered Secretaries & Administrators) offered insight into the role of the Company Secretary and touched on trends within corporate governance. Peter suggested the CoSec role:

  • delivers strategic leadership
  • adds significant value as a bridge in the boardroom between the executive team and the non-executive team
  • facilitates the delivery of organisational objectives
  • occasionally referred to as ‘wise friend and counsellor’ of non-execs

According to ICSA, the role of Company Secretary is increasingly outwardly-focused with many CoSecs currently involved in investor engagement and corporate communications. The role has developed beyond the administrative function of old. Peter warned of the conflict of interest in combining the roles of Head of Legal or General Counsel and CoSec, suggesting they should remain separate entities.

Before concluding, Peter referred to the PSC Register (Person of Significant Control), created as part of the Small Business, Enterprise & Employment Bill, due to come into effect in April 2016. All companies must disclose their beneficial owners via the register, defined by BIS as:

  • Those with ownership of more than 25% shares
  • Those with ownership of more than 25% voting rights
  • Ownership of right to appoint or remove a majority of the board of directors
  • Right to exercise significant influence or control
Sustainable Investments and ‘Impact Investing’

The following two speakers, Simon Howard, CEO of UKSIF (UK Sustainable Investment & Finance Association) and Tomas Carruthers, CEO of Social Stock Exchange, focused on the potential for investors to drive sustainability through investing into businesses that positively impact the environment and society.

According to Simon Howard, investing in companies with sustainable business practices is imperative from a financial point of view, as well as any sort of ethical one. He explained that an increasing number of investors are concerned by how businesses, especially in the oil and gas sectors, plan to transition to a low carbon economy. He mentioned how the ‘Aiming for A’ coalition saw shareholders successfully campaign for BP to report on its progress in this respect and in relation to climate change, through the submission of a shareholder resolution. Addressing his audience, he suggested that, based on his experience, the longevity of IR teams in comparison to that of individual CEOs, could present an opportunity for investor relations professionals to be the ‘conscience of the company’.

Tomas Carruthers, spoke passionately about his pioneering organisation, the Social Stock Exchange (SSX), as an alternative to the traditional route to capital-raising. The Social Stock Exchange is the world’s first regulated stock exchange with RIE status and seeks to “bridge the gap between the increasing desires of businesses to make a difference, alongside making a profit.” His passion for ‘impact investing’ evident, he described how the SSX offered small cap companies a platform to increase their visibility and attract “capital at scale, via a growing community of global impact investors.”

Currently led by a retail investor base, ‘impact investing’ has enjoyed an explosive growth in the last five years. Research has pointed to Millennials as the driving force within this investment area. Since 2012 there has been a 60% rise in the global growth of market for sustainable investments (*Global Sustainable Investment Review, Global Sustainable Investment Alliance, Feb 2015). 

Voting, Governance and Stewardship

This four-strong panel of experts included, Mike O’Sullivan of Glass Lewis & Co, Sarah Wilson of Manifest, Anita Skipper of Aviva Investors and Diandra Soobiah of NEST. Each speaker gave insight into their organisation’s role and the trends they perceive with regard to voting and stewardship, and the integration of corporate governance research within investment firms. Mike O’Sullivan and Sarah Wilson distinguished between their work as proxy advisory agencies. O’Sullivan noted that Australia has proved a leader in best-practice, and that experiences could prove relevant and beneficial for the UK going forward. Sarah Wilson attacked what she perceives as ‘zombie voting’, which in effect dilutes the efforts of shareholders who do make informed decisions. There was agreement across the panel with regard to the challenge shareholders face in responding adequately to the volume of meetings and resolutions proposed. This led to suggestion that perhaps shareholders might proceed by focusing on a reduced number of holdings, where issues can be examined in detail, rather than prioritising quantity over quality.

Anita Skipper, in accordance with Sarah Wilson, highlighted the importance for investors to develop and implement their own voting guidelines in light of the fact that not all shareholders have the same views and solutions. Anita, who is a Corporate Governance advisor to Aviva Investors, commented on the firm’s progress on integrating responsible investment practices within the investment and stewardship process. There is a perception that across the industry there needs to be better communication between fund managers and their corporate governance teams to optimise the sharing and incorporation of research and industry developments.

Diandra Soobiah spoke about the importance of integrating ESG as a risk governance strategy and carrying out stewardship responsibilities for NEST as a defined contribution pension scheme. For NEST, the National Employment Savings Trust, the incorporation of ESG issues reflects the Trust’s long-term horizon, which in turn represents the expectations and concerns of its members. NEST not only engages with investee companies as part of its stewardship strategy but with regulators and standard setters, and, crucially, its fund managers too.

Ethics and Governance

Peter Montagnon, Associate Director of IBE (Institute of Business Ethics) and a member of RD:IR’s Advisory Board, closed the seminar by providing the audience with anecdotal insight into the importance of ethics in business. He emphasised the need for companies to have a business model that reflected their core values and that if the two are not aligned, a company risks entering into very muddy waters. He went on to the say that values and culture must drive a company’s behaviour and that this should come from within a company. Not only should investors demand transparency on ESG progress, but the CEO in particular must provide a beacon of light and an example for employees to follow. 

 

For more information regarding IR Society events please visit their website here.

 

Authors: Sarah Blackshaw & Alice Essam

RD:IR attracts a brood of ducklings!

Every year a collective ‘Ahhhh’ reverberates around the RD:IR office as it is discovered that a mother duck, who seems to have become fond of our window box, has taken up her annual residency to raise her twelve ducklings.


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Unfortunately, a past experience has taught us that nesting at second-floor height, in a busy commuter area, is not safe for the ducklings and as such the RSPCA were called this afternoon, in order to re-house the newborns.

As sad as we are to see them go, the ducklings will be taken to a wildlife park outside the city to be reared in a more sheltered environment.

Until next year… sniff sniff.

 

 

RD:IR announces major new contract wins in FTSE 100 & FTSE 250

PRESS RELEASE

Richard Davies Investor Relations (“RD:IR”) is thrilled to announce new contract wins within the FTSE 100, as BT Group plc and Marks and Spencer Group plc join its growing list of blue-chip clients.

RD:IR is also delighted to welcome FTSE 250 constituents, AA plc, Ophir Energy plc and Tullow Oil plc to its mid-cap stable. RD:IR acts for one-third of this Index.

RD:IR is pleased to act for over 630 public company clients in the UK and internationally, across a range of sectors and market capitalisations.

New FTSE 100 clients

BT Group plc, one of the world’s leading fixed line telecommunications groups, and international multi-channel retailer, Marks and Spencer Group plc, have both taken RD:IR’s integrated IR InTouch service, combining rigorous share register analysis, powerful targeting, in-depth profiling and tailored investor relations contact relationship management in one online platform.

New FTSE 250 clients

Roadside assistance provider, AA plc, and oil and gas, exploration and production companies, Ophir Energy plc and Tullow Oil plc, have all chosen to employ RD:IR’s proprietary IR InTouch platform to assist and manage their investor relations activity.

Richard Davies, Managing Director of RD:IR, said, “We are very pleased to make more client gains within the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250. We welcome all our new clients, large and small, and look forward to working with the investor relations teams of these businesses in the coming months and years.

 

ENDS

 

For further information please contact:

 

Richard Davies, Managing Director

+44 20 7492 0501 or Richard.Davies@rdir.com

 

Sarah Blackshaw, Head of Marketing

+44 20 7492 0533 or Sarah.Blackshaw@rdir.com