Voting at UK listed public companies—process and participants
Voting at UK listed public companies—process and participants

The following Corporate practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Voting at UK listed public companies—process and participants
  • Ownership and voting at the modern listed public company
  • UK Corporate Governance Code (Code)
  • The role of the custodian banks
  • Key participants in the voting process
  • Within the company
  • Outside the company
  • Voting—the law
  • Decision-making process
  • Voting rights
  • More...

Ownership and voting at the modern listed public company

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), shares in quoted UK domiciled companies listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) were worth a total of approximately £1.88 trillion at the end of 2018. The ONS breaks down ownership of the market as follows:

  1. 'rest of the world': 54.9%

  2. UK individuals: 13.5%

  3. unit trusts: 9.6%

  4. other financial institutions: 8.1%

  5. insurance companies: 4.0%, and

  6. pension funds: 2.4%

Other shareholders included:

  1. investment trusts: 1.4 %

  2. charities, churches, etc: 0.5%

  3. private non-financial companies: 2.6%

  4. public sector: 0.9%, and

  5. banks: 2.1%

Modern listed companies increasingly tend to exhibit the following characteristics:

  1. a large, fragmented and international shareholder base dominated by institutional investors

  2. ownership may shift constantly; determining who owns what at any given point is likely to be further complicated by the practice of stock lending

  3. paper shares have largely been replaced by ‘dematerialised’ and ‘intermediated’ accounts:

    1. nearly 90% of all UK listed shares are recorded on the CREST electronic settlement system, and

    2. on most UK share registers the majority of the issued share capital is held, in terms of legal title, not by the institutional investors themselves but by financial institutions providing custody services (custodian banks and their nominees)

  4. most retail investors neither attend shareholder meetings nor lodge proxy votes

  5. on the other hand most institutional investors do vote

  6. votes are predominantly taken

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