The directors present their report together with the audited consolidated financial statements for the year ended 31 March 2014.
The Companies Act 2006 requires the directors to present a fair review of the business during the year to 31 March 2014 and of the position of the Group at the end of the financial year along with a description of the principal risks and uncertainties. The Disclosure and Transparency Rules require certain information to be included in a corporate governance statement.
The strategic report and the corporate governance report, including the audit committee report, form part of this directors' report. Disclosures elsewhere in the annual report are cross-referenced where appropriate. Taken together, they fulfil the combined requirements of company law, the Disclosure and Transparency Rules and Listing Rules.
Details of significant events since the balance sheet date are contained in note 32 to the financial statements. An indication of likely future developments in the business of the Group and details of research and development activities are included in the strategic report. Information about the use of financial instruments by the Company and its subsidiaries is given in note 21 to the financial statements.
The directors did not declare an interim dividend for the six months ended 30 September 2013 (2013: £1.3m, 1.5p per share). The directors do not recommend the payment of a final dividend.
The present membership of the board is set out in the board of directors.
Details of directors' interests, including interests in the Company's shares, are disclosed in the directors' remuneration report.
The other significant commitments of the chairman were unchanged during the year and consist of acting as non-executive director of Lagan Construction Holdings Limited and Newbury Racecourse plc.
As at 1 July 2014, the Group had been notified of the following voting rights to the Company's shares in accordance with the Disclosure Rules and Transparency Rules of the UK Listing Authority:
|1 M&G Investments||46,889,416||15.76|
|2 JO Hambro Capital Management||44,332,047||14.90|
|3 Standard Life Investments||25,941,128||8.72|
|4 Threadneedle Investments||23,382,337||7.86|
|5 River & Mercantile Asset Management||15,802,632||5.31|
|6 Legal & General Investment Management||14,119,905||4.75|
|7 Henderson Global Investors||10,568,906||3.55|
The Company has a single class of share capital which is divided into ordinary shares of 2.5p each.
Rights attaching to shares
The rights attaching to the ordinary shares are defined in the Company's articles of association. The articles of association may be changed with the agreement of shareholders. A shareholder whose name appears on the Company's register of members can choose whether his shares are evidenced by share certificates (i.e. in certificated form) or held in electronic (i.e. uncertificated) form in CREST (the electronic settlement system in the UK).
Subject to any restrictions below, shareholders may attend any general meeting of the Company and, on a show of hands, every shareholder (or his representative) who is present at a general meeting has one vote on each resolution and, on a poll, every shareholder (or his representative) who is present has one vote on each resolution for every ordinary share of which they are the registered shareholder. A resolution put to the vote of a general meeting is decided on a show of hands unless before, or on the declaration of the result of, a vote on a show of hands, a poll is demanded by the chairman of the meeting, or by at least five shareholders present in person or by proxy and having the right to vote, or by any shareholders present in person or by proxy having at least ten per cent of the total voting rights of all shareholders, or by any shareholders present in person or by proxy holding ordinary shares in which an aggregate sum has been paid up of at least one-tenth of the total sum paid up on all ordinary shares.
Shareholders can declare final dividends by passing an ordinary resolution but the amount of the dividends cannot exceed the amount recommended by the board. The board can pay interim dividends on any class of shares of the amounts and on the dates and for the periods they decide the distributable profits of the Company justify such payment.
Any dividend which has not been claimed for 12 years after it became due for payment will be forfeited and will then belong to the Company, unless the directors decide otherwise.
If the Company is wound up, the liquidator can, with the sanction of a special resolution passed by the shareholders, divide among the shareholders all or any part of the assets of the Company and he can value any assets and determine how the division shall be carried out as between the members or different classes of members. The liquidator can also transfer the whole or any part of the assets to trustees upon any trusts for the benefit of the members. No shareholders can be compelled to accept any asset which would give them a liability.
Voting at general meetings
Any form of proxy sent by the Company to shareholders in relation to any general meeting must be delivered (subject to the provisions of the articles of association) to the Company, whether in written form or in electronic form, not less than 48 hours before the time appointed for holding the meeting or adjourned meeting at which the person named in the appointment proposes to vote.
No shareholder is, unless the board decides otherwise, entitled to attend or vote either personally or by proxy at a general meeting or to exercise any other right conferred by being a shareholder if he or any person with an interest in shares has been sent a notice under section 793 of the Companies Act 2006 (which confers upon public companies the power to require information with respect to interests in their voting shares) and he or any interested person failed to supply the Company with the information requested within 14 days after delivery of that notice.
The board may also decide (where the shares represent at least 0.25 per cent in nominal value of the issued shares of the same class) that no dividend is payable in respect of those default shares and that no transfer of any default shares shall be registered.
These restrictions end seven days after receipt by the Company of a notice of an approved transfer of the shares or all the information required by the relevant section 793 notice, whichever is the earlier.
Transfer of shares
The board may refuse to register a transfer of a share which is not fully paid, provided that the refusal does not prevent dealings in shares in the Company from taking place on an open and proper basis. The board may also refuse to register a transfer of a certificated share unless: (i) the instrument of transfer is lodged, duly stamped (if stampable), at the registered office of the Company or any other place decided by the board, accompanied by a certificate for the share to which it relates and such other evidence as the board may reasonably require to show the right of the transferor to make the transfer; (ii) is in respect of only one class of shares; and (iii) is in favour of not more than four transferees.
Transfer of uncertificated shares must be carried out using CREST and the board can refuse to register a transfer of an uncertificated share in accordance with the regulations governing the operation of CREST. There are no other limitations on the holding of ordinary shares in the Company.
Variation of rights
If at any time the capital of the Company is divided into different classes of shares, the special rights attaching to any class may be varied or revoked either:
- with the written consent of the holders of at least 75 per cent in nominal value of the issued shares of the class; or
- with the sanction of a special resolution passed at a separate general meeting of the holders of the shares of the class.
The Company can issue new shares and attach any rights to them. If there is no restriction by special rights attaching to existing shares, rights attaching to new shares can take priority over the rights of existing shares.
A resolution is to be proposed at the forthcoming AGM that a general meeting of the Company, other than an AGM, can be called on not less than 14 clear days' notice.
Change of control
There are no agreements between the Group and its directors or employees providing for compensation for loss of office or employment that occurs because of a takeover bid.
The Group's banking arrangements which expire in November 2016 can be terminated upon a change of control of the Group.
Appointment and replacement of directors
In accordance with the Company's articles, directors shall be no less than two and no more than 12 in number. Subject to applicable law, a director may be appointed by an ordinary resolution of shareholders in general meeting following nomination by the board or a member (or members) entitled to vote at such a meeting, or following retirement by rotation if the director chooses to seek re-election at a general meeting. In addition, the directors may appoint a director to fill a vacancy or as an additional director, provided that the individual retires at the next AGM. A director may be removed by the Company as provided for by applicable law, in certain circumstances set out in the Company's articles of association (for example bankruptcy, or resignation), or by a special resolution of the Company. We have decided this year to adopt voluntarily the practice that all directors stand for re-election on an annual basis, in line with the recommendations of the Code.
Powers of the directors
The business of the Company is managed by the board who may exercise all the powers of the Company subject to the provisions of the Company's articles of association, the Companies Act 2006 ('the Act') and any ordinary resolution of the Company.
The articles entitle the directors of the Company to be indemnified, to the extent permitted by the Act and any other applicable legislation, out of the assets of the Company in the event that they suffer any loss or incur any liability in connection with the execution of their duties as directors.
In addition, and in common with many other companies, the Company had during the year and continues to have in place directors' and officers' insurance in favour of its directors and other officers in respect of certain losses or liabilities to which they may be exposed due to their office.
Amendment of articles of association
Any amendments to the articles may be made in accordance with the provisions of the Act by way of special resolution.
No contributions were made to any political parties during the current or preceding period.
Greenhouse gas emissions
All disclosures on the Group's greenhouse gas emissions, as required to be disclosed under the Companies Act 2006 (Strategic Report and Directors' Report Regulations 2013), are contained in the corporate social responsibility report.
Employment of disabled persons
The Company gives full and fair consideration to applications for employment made by disabled persons, having regard to their particular aptitudes and abilities. In the event of an employee becoming disabled every effort is made to ensure that their employment within the Company continues and that appropriate training is arranged where necessary. It is the policy of the Company that the training, career development and promotion of disabled persons should, as far as possible, be identical to that of other employees.
The Group places considerable value on the involvement of its employees and has continued its practice of keeping them informed on matters affecting them as employees, for example, eligibility to join Company share schemes, and on the various factors affecting the performance of the Group. Communication is made using the Group's internal communications newsletter and through regular meetings with, and presentations by, senior management.
Details of employee share-based payment schemes are set out in note 22.
After making enquiries, the directors have formed a judgement at the time of approving the financial statements that there is a reasonable expectation that the Group has adequate resources to continue in operational existence for the foreseeable future. For this reason the directors continue to adopt the going concern basis in preparing the financial statements.
The key factors considered by the directors in making the statement are set out in the financial review.
Disclosure of information to the external auditor
The directors who held office at the date of approval of this directors' report confirm that, so far as they are each aware, there is no relevant audit information of which the Company's auditor is unaware and each director has taken all the steps that he or she ought to have taken as a director in order to make himself or herself aware of any relevant audit information and to establish that the Company's auditor is aware of that information.
This confirmation is given and should be interpreted in accordance with the provisions of section 418 of the Act.
Deloitte LLP has expressed its willingness to continue in office as external auditor and a resolution to reappoint it will be proposed at the forthcoming AGM.
Annual general meeting
The notice concerning the AGM to be held at Aldwark Manor Hotel, York at noon on Tuesday 2 September 2014, together with explanatory notes on the resolutions to be proposed and full details of the deadlines for exercising voting rights, is contained in a circular to be sent to shareholders with this report.
The directors' report was approved by the board and signed on its behalf by:
11 July 2014