This information on Corporate Governance has been extracted from the 2011 Annual
Report published on 30 April 2012.
The company has adopted the Guidance for Smaller Quoted Companies (SQC) published
by the Quoted Companies Alliance. The Alliance provides guidance to SQC and
their guidance covers the implementation of The UK Corporate Governance Code for
SQC. The paragraphs below set out how the company has applied this guidance
during the year. The company has complied with the Quoted Companies Alliance
guidance throughout the year, except insofar that non-executive directors are
not appointed for fixed terms (section A.7.2).
Principals of corporate governance
The group’s Board appreciates the value of good corporate governance not
only in the areas of accountability and risk management, but also as a positive
contribution to business prosperity. The Board endeavours to apply corporate
governance principals in a sensible and pragmatic fashion having regard to the
circumstances of the group’s business. The key objective is to enhance and
protect shareholder value.
During the year the Board comprised the executive chairman, the managing
director, two other executive directors and two nonexecutive directors. Their
details appear on page 16. The Board is responsible to shareholders for the
proper management of the group. A statement of directors’ responsibilities in
respect of the accounts is set out on page 27. The non-executive directors have
a particular responsibility to ensure that the strategies proposed by the
executive directors are fully considered. To enable the Board to discharge its
duties, all directors have full and timely access to all relevant information
and there is a procedure for all directors, in furtherance of their duties, to
take independent professional advice, if necessary, at the expense of the group.
The Board has a formal schedule of matters reserved to it and meets bi-monthly.
The Board is responsible for overall group strategy, approval of major capital
expenditure projects and consideration of significant financing matters.
The following Board committees, which have written terms of reference, deal with
specific aspects of the group’s affairs:
- The nomination committee is chaired by Christopher Joll and
comprises the non-executive directors and the executive chairman. The committee
is responsible for proposing candidates for appointment to the Board, having
regard to the balance and structure of the Board. In appropriate cases
recruitment consultants are used to assist the process. Each director is subject
to re-election at least every three years.
- The remuneration committee is responsible for making recommendations to
the Board on the company’s framework of executive remuneration and its cost. The
committee determines the contractual terms, remuneration and other benefits for
each of the executive directors, including performance related bonus schemes,
pension rights and compensation payments. The Board itself determines the
remuneration of the non-executive directors. The committee comprises the
non-executive directors. It is chaired by Christopher Joll. The company’s
executive chairman is normally invited to attend meetings. The report on
directors’ remuneration is set out on pages 24 and 25.
- The audit committee comprises the two non-executive directors and is
chaired by Christopher Joll. Its prime tasks are to review the scope of external
audit, to receive regular reports from the Company’s auditors, PKF (UK) LLP, and
to review the halfyearly and annual accounts before they are presented to the
Board, focusing in particular on accounting policies and areas of management
judgment and estimation. The committee is responsible for monitoring the
controls which are in force to ensure the integrity of the information reported
to the shareholders. The committee acts as a forum for discussion of internal
control issues and contributes to the Board’s review of the effectiveness of the
group’s internal control and risk management systems and processes. The
committee also considers annually the need for an internal audit function. It
advises the Board on the appointment of external auditors and on their
remuneration for both audit and nonaudit work, and discusses the nature and
scope of the audit with the external auditors. The committee, which meets
formally at least twice a year, provides a forum for reporting by the group’s
external auditors. Meetings are also attended, by invitation, by the company
chairman, managing director and finance director.
The audit committee also undertakes a formal assessment of the auditors’
independence each year which includes:
- a review of non-audit services provided to the group and related fees;
- discussion with the auditors of a written report detailing all relationships
with the company and any other parties that could affect independence or the
perception of independence;
- a review of the auditors’ own procedures for ensuring the independence of the
audit firm and partners and staff involved in the audit, including the regular
rotation of the audit partner; and
- obtaining written confirmation from the auditors that, in their professional
judgement, they are independent.
The audit committee report is set out on page 26.
An analysis of the fees payable to the external audit firm in respect of both
audit and non-audit services during the year is set out in Note 4 to the
Performance evaluation – board, board committees and directors
The performance of the board as a whole and of its committees and the
non-executive directors is assessed by the chairman and the managing director
and is discussed with the senior independent director. Their recommendations are
discussed at the nomination committee prior to proposals for re-election being
recommended to the Board. The performance of executive directors is discussed
and assessed by the remuneration committee. The senior independent director
meets regularly with the chairman and both the executive and non-executive
directors individually outside of formal meetings. The directors will take
outside advice in reviewing performance but have not found this necessary to
The senior independent non-executive director is Christopher Joll. The other
independent non-executive director is John Sibbald.
Christopher Joll has been a non-executive director for over ten years. As a
consequence he does not fully meet the criteria for independence set out in the
UK Corporate Governance Code (The Code).
John Sibbald has been a non-executive director of Bisichi for over twenty years
– the maximum set out in The Code criteria for independence is nine years. For
this reason he does not fully meet the criteria set out in The Code for
The Board encourages Christopher Joll and John Sibbald to act independently. The
criteria for independence on which they fail to meet The Code’s criteria for
independence, namely length of service and a connection with the company’s
public relations advisers, should not, and has not, resulted in their inability
or failure to act independently. In the opinion of the Board, Christopher Joll
and John Sibbald continue to fulfil their role as independent non-executive
The independent directors regularly meet prior to Board meetings to discuss
corporate governance issues.
Board and board committee meetings
The number of meetings during 2011 and attendance at regular Board meetings
and Board committees was as follows:
|M A Heller
|A R Heller
|G J Casey
|R J Grobler
|C A Joll
|J A Sibbald
The audit committee had two meetings in 2011 with the external auditors present,
prior to release of the 2011 annual results. Members of the committee discussed
the 30 June 2011 half year results prior to their approval by the full Board.
The nomination committee held one meeting during the year
The directors are responsible for the group’s system of internal control and
review of its effectiveness annually. The Board has designed the group’s system
of internal control in order to provide the directors with reasonable assurance
that its assets are safeguarded, that transactions are authorised and properly
recorded and that material errors and irregularities are either prevented or
would be detected within a timely period. However, no system of internal control
can eliminate the risk of failure to achieve business objectives or provide
absolute assurance against material misstatement or loss.
The key elements of the control system in operation are:
- The Board meets regularly with a formal schedule of matters reserved to it for
decision and has put in place an organisational structure with clearly defined
lines of responsibility and with appropriate delegation of authority;
- There are established procedures for planning, approval and monitoring of
capital expenditure and information systems for monitoring the group’s financial
performance against approved budgets and forecasts;
- UK property and financial operations are closely monitored by members of the
Board and senior managers to enable them to assess risk and address the adequacy
of measures in place for its monitoring and control. The South African
operations are closely supervised by the UK based executives through daily,
weekly and monthly reports from the directors and senior officers in South
Africa. This is supplemented by monthly visits by the UK based finance director
to the South African operations which include checking the integrity of
information supplied to the UK. The directors are guided by the internal control
guidance for directors issued by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in
England and Wales.
During the period, the audit committee has reviewed the effectiveness of
internal control as described above. The Board receives periodic reports from
There are no significant issues disclosed in the Annual Report for the year
ended 31 December 2011 (and up to the date of approval of the report) concerning
material internal control issues. The directors confirm that the Board has
reviewed the effectiveness of the system of internal control as described during
Communication with shareholders
Communication with shareholders is a matter of priority. Extensive
information about the group and its activities is given in the Annual Report,
which is made available to shareholders. Further information is available on the
company’s website, www.bisichi.co.uk. There is a regular dialogue with
institutional investors. Enquiries from individuals on matters relating to their
shareholdings and the business of the group are dealt with informatively and
Payment of suppliers
The company agrees contract terms with suppliers when orders are placed.
Payments to suppliers are made in accordance with those terms, provided that
suppliers have complied with all relevant terms and conditions. Trade creditors
outstanding at the year-end represented 52 days trade purchases (2010 – 39
The company has one class of share capital, ordinary shares. Each ordinary
share carries one vote. All the ordinary shares rank pari passu. There are no
securities issued in the company which carry special rights with regard to
control of the company. The identity of all substantial direct or indirect
holders of securities in the company and the size and nature of their holdings
is shown under the “Substantial interests” section of this report above.
A relationship agreement dated 15 September 2005 (the “Relationship Agreement”)
was entered into between the company and London & Associated Properties PLC
(“LAP”) in regard to the arrangements between them while LAP is a controlling
shareholder of the company. The Relationship Agreement includes a provision
under which LAP has agreed to exercise the voting rights attached to the
ordinary shares in the company owned by LAP to ensure the independence of the
Board of directors of the company.
Other than the restrictions contained in the Relationship Agreement, there are
no restrictions on voting rights or on the transfer of ordinary shares in the
company. The rules governing the appointment and replacement of directors,
alteration of the articles of association of the company and the powers of the
company’s directors accord with usual English company law provisions. Each
director is re-elected every three years or more frequently. The company is not
party to any significant agreements that take effect, alter or terminate upon a
change of control of the company following a takeover bid. The company is not
aware of any agreements between holders of its ordinary shares that may result
in restrictions on the transfer of its ordinary shares or on voting rights.
There are no agreements between the company and its directors or employees
providing for compensation for loss of office or employment that occurs because
of a takeover bid.
The Bribery Act 2010
The Bribery Act 2010 came into force on 1 July 2011, and the Board took the
opportunity to begin implementing a new Anti-Bribery Policy. The company is
committed to acting ethically, fairly and with integrity in all its endeavours
and compliance of the code is closely monitored.
Annual General Meeting
The annual general meeting will be held at the the Royal Automobile Club, 89
Pall Mall, London SW1Y 5HS on Thursday, 31 May 2012 at 11.00 a.m. Resolutions 1
to 10 will be proposed as ordinary resolutions. More than 50 per cent of
shareholders’ votes cast must be in favour for these resolutions to be passed.
Resolutions 11 to 13 will be proposed as special resolutions. At least 75 per
cent of shareholders’ votes cast must be in favour for these resolutions to be
The directors consider that all of the resolutions to be put to the meeting are
in the best interests of the company and its shareholders as a whole. The Board
recommends that shareholders vote in favour of all resolutions.
Directors’ authority to allot shares (Resolution 10)
Paragraph 10.1.1 of Resolution 10 would give the directors the authority to
allot shares in the company and grant rights to subscribe for, or convert any
security into, shares in the company up to an aggregate nominal value of
£351,542. This represents approximately 33.3 per cent of the ordinary share
capital of the company in issue (excluding treasury shares) at 17 April 2012
(being the last practicable date prior to the publication of this Directors’
Report). Paragraph 10.1.2 of Resolution 10 would give the directors the
authority to allot shares in the company and grant rights to subscribe for, or
convert any security into, shares in the company up to a further aggregate
nominal value of £351,542, in connection with a pre-emptive rights issue. This
amount represents approximately 33.3 per cent. of the ordinary share capital of
the company in issue (excluding treasury shares) at 17 April 2012 (being the
last practicable date prior to the publication of this Directors’ Report).
Therefore, the maximum nominal value of shares or rights to subscribe for, or
convert any security into, shares which may be allotted or granted under
resolution 10 is £703,084.
Resolution 10 complies with guidance issued by the Association of British
The authority granted by resolution 10 will expire on 31 August 2013 or, if
earlier, the conclusion of the next Annual General Meeting of the company. The
directors have no present intention to make use of this authority. However, if
they do exercise the authority, the directors intend to follow emerging best
practice as regards its use as recommended by the ABI.
Disapplication of pre-emption rights (Resolution 11)
A special resolution will be proposed at the Annual General Meeting in
respect of the disapplication of pre-emption rights.
Shares allotted for cash must normally first be offered to shareholders in
proportion to their existing shareholdings. The directors will, at the
forthcoming Annual General Meeting seek power to allot equity securities (as
defined by section 560 of the Companies Act 2006) or sell treasury shares for
cash as if the pre-emption rights contained in Section 561 of the Companies Act
2006 did not apply:
(a) in relation to pre-emptive offers and offers to holders of other equity
securities if required by the rights of those securities or as the directors
otherwise consider necessary, up to a maximum nominal amount of £351,542 which
represents approximately 33.3 per cent. of the ordinary share capital of the
company in issue (excluding treasury shares) and, in relation to rights issues
only, up to a maximum additional amount of £351,542 which represents
approximately 33.3 per cent. of the ordinary share capital of the company in
issue (excluding treasury shares), in each case as at 17 April 2012 (being the
last practicable date prior to the publication of this Directors’ Report); and
(b) in any other case, up to a maximum nominal amount of £105,568 which
represents approximately 10 per cent. of the ordinary share capital of the
company in issue (excluding treasury shares) as at 17 April 2012 (being the last
practicable date prior to the publication of this Directors’ Report).
In compliance with the guidelines issued by the Pre-emption Group, the
directors, will ensure that, other than in relation to a rights issue, no more
than 7.5% of the issued ordinary shares (excluding treasury shares) will be
allotted for cash on a non pre-emptive basis over a rolling three year period
unless shareholders have been notified and consulted in advance.
The power in resolution 11 will expire when the authority given by resolution 10
is revoked or expires.
Notice of General Meetings (Resolution 12)
Resolution 12 will be proposed to allow the company to call general meetings
(other than an Annual General Meeting) on 14 clear days’ notice. A resolution in
the same terms was passed at the Annual General Meeting in 2011. The notice
period required by the Companies Act 2006 for general meetings of the company is
21 days unless shareholders approve a shorter notice period, which cannot
however be less than 14 clear days. Annual General Meetings must always be held
on at least 21 clear days’ notice. It is intended that the flexibility offered
by this resolution will only be used for timesensitive, non-routine business and
where merited in the interests of shareholders as a whole. The approval will be
effective until the Company’s next Annual General Meeting, when it is intended
that a similar resolution will be proposed. In order to be able to call a
general meeting on less than 21 clear days’ notice, the company must make a
means of electronic voting available to all shareholders for that meeting.
Purchase of own Ordinary Shares (Resolution 13)
The effect of resolution 13 would be to renew the directors’ current
authority to make limited market purchases of the company’s ordinary shares of
10 pence each. The power is limited to a maximum aggregate number of 1,055,684
ordinary shares (representing approximately 10 per cent of the company’s issued
share capital as at 17 April 2012 (being the last practicable date prior to
publication of this Directors’ Report)). The minimum price (exclusive of
expenses) which the company would be authorised to pay for each ordinary share
would be 10 pence (the nominal value of each ordinary share). The maximum price
(again exclusive of expenses) which the company would be authorised to pay for
an ordinary share is an amount equal to the higher of (i) 105% of the average
market price for an ordinary share for the five business days preceding any such
purchase and (ii) the higher of the price of the last independent trade for an
ordinary share and the highest current independent bid for an ordinary share as
derived from the trading venue where the purchase is to be carried out. The
authority conferred by resolution 13 will expire at the conclusion of the
company’s next Annual General Meeting or 15 months from the passing of the
resolution, whichever is the earlier. Any purchases of ordinary shares would be
made by means of market purchase through the London Stock Exchange. If granted,
the authority would only be exercised if, in the opinion of the directors, to do
so would result in an increase in earnings per share or net asset value per
share and would be in the best interests of shareholders generally. In
exercising the authority to purchase ordinary shares, the directors may treat
the shares that have been bought back as either cancelled or held as treasury
shares (shares held by the company itself). No dividends may be paid on shares
which are held as treasury shares and no voting rights are attached to them.
As at 17 April 2012 (being the last practicable date prior to the publication of
this Directors’ Report) the total number of options to subscribe for new
ordinary shares in the company was 798,000 shares representing 7.56% of the
company’s issued share capital (excluding treasury shares) as at that date. Such
number of options to subscribe for new ordinary shares would represent
approximately 8.40% of the reduced issued share capital of the company
(excluding treasury shares) assuming full use of the authority to make market
purchases sought under resolution 13.
No political or charitable donations were made during the year (2010:Nil).
The group’s business activities, together with the factors likely to affect
its future development are set out in the Chairman’s Statement on the preceding
page 2 and the Mining Review on pages 5 to 9 and it’s financial position is set
out on page15 of the Business Review. In addition Note 22 to the financial
statements includes the group’s treasury policy, interest rate risk, liquidity
risk and hedging profile.
The group has considerable financial resources available and long term leases
with the majority of its tenants of its property portfolio. The directors have a
reasonable expectation of improved market conditions in 2012 with Black Wattle
Colliery, its direct mining asset returning to profitability in the second half
of 2011. As a consequence, the directors believe that the company is well placed
to manage its business risks successfully despite the loss for the year. The
group intends to negotiate new facilities in the UK before the expiry of the
current facility and have obtained confirmation from the Royal Bank of Scotland
that they are not aware of any reason why the bank should not continue to
support the company following the expiry of the current facilities.
The directors have a reasonable expectation that the company has adequate
resources to continue in operational existence for the foreseeable future. Thus
they continue to adopt the going concern basis of accounting in preparing the
annual financial statements.
PKF (UK) LLP has expressed its willingness to continue in office as auditor.
A proposal will be made at the annual general meeting for its re-appointment,
and for its remuneration to be determined by the directors.