Monday, 16 July 2007

The importance of overseas ownership

I posted at the end of last week about the change in ownership of UK shares and the implications this has for companies. The current situation at Vodafone provides a good example. The news that US proxy voting firm Glass Lewis has backed rebel shareholder proposals has attracted quite a bit of coverage (see the FT and Finance Week for example).

Normally the business pages wouldn't cover a US proxy voting firm's recommendations on a UK company, which suggests to me that ECS (the outifit behind the resolutions) has been pushing this to the press. Several reports state that a third of Vodafone's shares are held by North American investors. However, as the stats I posted last week show, having a third of your shares held by overseas investors is pretty much the typical market position. And the overwhelming bulk of the overseas ownership is accounted for by North American investors.

In other words the presence of large US investors isn't (or shouldn't be) that newsworthy. It's just that the journos who write up these stories probably aren't aware of this.

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