Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Caledonia's sneaky Tory cash drop

Well this is interesting. It turns out that Caledonia Investments hasn't quite given up on using company money to fund the Tories after all. I speculated last June that they may have given up. My reasons for thinking this were a) they had made no donations since 2010 and b) they had not sought shareholder approval to do so since 2009.

This remains true, Caledonia has not sought shareholder approval to make political donations since July 2009 when almost 20% of shareholders voted against. As I understood it, because that authority was used (as donations were made during the subsequent 12 months) approval would needed to have been sought again to make further donations. As no authority was sought at the 2014 AGM (the last chance to do so before the election) it looked liked they weren't going to do it.

But then I spotted that Caledonia had indeed made a donation of £2,000 which was received by the Tories in mid December 2014, and looks like it has gone to the local party in Eastleigh, a key target seat to take from the Lib Dems. On the face of it this looks like it isn't permissible, but apparently there is a threshold for donations that require shareholder authority of £5,000 in any 12 months. Only donations over that amount require approval.

It doesn't look great does it? This is a company that knows that a) you are expected to seek shareholder approval for political donations and b) that its own shareholders do not like it making party political donations (as demonstrated by the July 2009 AGM vote). So it appears it has found a way to give the company's money to the Conservative Party without having to consult its shareholders and have a controversial vote. And this enables them to chuck a couple of grand into a key Tory target seat.

If you are a Caledonia shareholder, and/or a Lib Dem leaning corp gov type, you might want to have a look at this one. It looks to me like they are taking the mickey, and they might try and bung a few more quid over before the election.

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