?Tell us it's not true, saintly Antony. Have you really increased bonuses at
In other words, the pie has shrunk in size but the well paid employees will receive a larger slice at the expense of investors.
That is not what
"For 2012 and in future we are taking a different approach to the balance between directors' and employees' remuneration, and returns for shareholders."
Jenkins may offer various explanations. The blasted EU bonus cap has sown confusion and
This argument, as far as it goes, is coherent. It is true that the shareholders of
But Jenkins should talk straight to his shareholders. He is clearly sincere about his clean-up programme; and he himself is prepared to share the pain for "legacy litigation and conduct issues" by declining a bonus for 2013. But is he also saying that
The unit occasionally, as in 2012, earns returns in excess of
?Cold logic says AO, an online retailer of fridges, freezers and microwaves coming to the stock market next month, would be absurdly over-priced at pounds 1bn. The company made top-line profits of only pounds 10.7m last year on sales of pounds 275m and margins on electrical goods are notoriously thin for the retailer.
Gut instinct, however, says this flotation will generate a stampede of investors. AO is clearly a high-quality outfit.
The magic ingredients are claimed as smart logistics, proprietary IT and excellent customer service. All e-commerce companies make similar boasts, of course, but AO can at least point to proper profits, a rapid shift in its market towards online shopping and a route to expansion -
To justify a pounds 1bn price-tag, you have to believe that AO's profit margins can rise substantially from last year's 3.8% with the benefits of greater size and that German expedition can be executed without cock-ups. Both propositions are untested and Dixons remains a strong competitor in the
But, if the stock market is willing to value loss-making
?Stephen Billingham, chairman of pub landlord
It was quite a claim as there are 16 classes of bonds and agreement is needed from each. Unfortunately for
The chance of an 11th-hour agreement is roughly zero and the proposals will almost certainly be voted down next Friday.
Several wet towels are required to understand the technicalities of all the quarrels here. The heart of the problem is that Punch was designed at the outset by financial engineers who did a botch-job. The junior bonds still get some access to income in the event of a default, which confuses the traditional hierarchy of creditors.
Then matters became doubly complicated when some US hedge funds emerged as both shareholders and junior bondholders. It's messy.
But one principle should surely be supreme in any debt restructuring: shareholders, as suppliers of the first line of risk-capital, are wiped out first, or at least diluted hugely. Senior bondholders, gathered under the
The belligerent hedge funds who bought up Punch shares may have been gambling that, when push came to shove, fuddy-duddy ABI-types would roll over. The display of backbone by the ABI group should be applauded.
The danger after Friday's vote is that Punch defaults on its obligations, creating yet more mess and confusion for everybody.
But, if that happens, it's the shareholders who should be blamed.
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