M&S appreciates that there are a range of circumstances that might result in shareholders losing touch with us. We have instructed ProSearch, a specialist tracing company, to communicate with investors who have, for one reason or another, become disconnected from their M&S shareholding and may have cash entitlements outstanding as a result.
There are various reasons why cash entitlements may not have been claimed by shareholders. Some of the most common reasons are:
- a shareholder not notifying the Registrar of a change of address;
- the beneficiaries or executors of an estate not being aware of the holding; or
- a shareholder simply forgetting or being uncertain about their shareholding(s).
How do accounts on the M&S share register become 'dormant'?
Prior to the phasing out of dividend cheques in 2018, some of the cheques that were mailed to shareholders twice a year were not cashed. This was often because the affected shareholders no longer lived at the address recorded in the M&S share register, and had not notified the Registrar of their new address. Once three consecutive dividend cheques were sent and remained uncashed, the shareholder in question was automatically flagged on the share register as ‘gone away’. Subsequently, in the interests of security all shareholder related mail would have been suspended until such time as the shareholder got in touch with our Registrar.
What happens to the shares registered to 'gone away' accounts, and any unclaimed dividends?
Once a shareholder's account has been flagged as 'gone away', their shares remain on the register and continue to accumulate dividends, however no further mail is sent to the shareholder's registered address. After a period of 12 years has elapsed without the shareholder re-establishing contact, their shares and any dividend payments which remain unclaimed are forfeited and returned to the Company. Rather than take these funds back as profit, M&S uses them for good causes.
Who is ProSearch, and how does it assist in locating 'gone away' shareholders?
In 2007 we contracted with ProSearch Asset Solutions Limited ('ProSearch') to try to find and assist shareholders (or their legal representatives) with the repatriation of unclaimed amounts to which they may be entitled. ProSearch is a subsidiary of our Registrar, Equiniti Limited, which specialises in the research, identification and the reuniting of unclaimed assets. They have a 30 year heritage in the provision of Asset Reunification solutions and have worked with many FTSE 100 and 250 clients on similar projects.
What if we are unable to re-establish contact with a shareholder?
Once a shareholder has been considered ‘gone away’ for a period of 12 years and we have been unable to re-establish contact with them, their shares are forfeited and sold, with the proceeds from the sale being used for good causes rather than retained by the Company. Each January we send a Notice Letter to shareholders whose accounts have been dormant for more than 12 years. The Notice advises the shareholder that their shares are about to be sold and the proceeds of the sale forfeited. Those who receive this letter need to contact our Registrar, Equiniti, urgently on 0345 609 0810.
What if a shareholder (or person entitled to the shares) came forward after the shares have been sold?
In these circumstances, each case would be reviewed by the Company and our Registrar, Equiniti.
What should shareholders do if they do not want to use the ProSearch service?
Please contact our Registrar, Equiniti on 0345 609 0810. Lines open 8.30am to 5.30pm, Monday to Friday (excluding UK public holidays). Please be aware that there may also be charges for the services provided by Equiniti.