Vodafone shareholders to get forms after U-turn

Share registrar had told callers deadline had passed but are now mailing forms

Vodafone said  today was the last day for shareholders to get new forms dispatched by its share registrar Computershare. Photograph:  Chris Ison/PA Wire

Vodafone said today was the last day for shareholders to get new forms dispatched by its share registrar Computershare. Photograph: Chris Ison/PA Wire

Fri, Feb 14, 2014, 21:23

Vodafone moved quickly to quell a revolt this morning after small shareholders had earlier been refused forms to claim their “return of value” as a result of the Verizon deal.

Vodafone is returning money to shareholders in cash and Verizon shares following its recent decision to sell its US business to its partner in that business, Verizon.

The company had set today as the deadline for Irish or other foreign shareholders who had misplaced forms or who had never received them to request replacement forms.

However, Computershare, which manages the Vodafone share register and was responsible for issuing the forms, informed callers today that the deadline was, in fact, yesterday.

Following calls from The Irish Times, which had printed details of the deadline in today’s newspaper, Vodafone confirmed that shareholders could ask for forms to be dispatched today.

A spokeswoman for the company said it had contacted Computershare to investigate why incorrect information was being given to shareholders and the registrar had undertaken to immediately update call centre staff.

Shareholders contacted by The Irish Times say the Computershare call centre is now accepting requests for reissue of the necessary forms.

Many of the State’s 380,000 Vodafone shareholders inadvertently dumped information packs sent to them. It explained the deal and how to choose which way they received their “return of value” – cash and shares in Verizon to a total value of around €1.25 per Vodafone share.

Most Irish shareholders are nursing significant losses on their holdings which generally date back to the original Telecom Éireann flotation in 1999. As a result, they can receive their money and shares without paying any tax by opting to have them treated as “capital” but they must actively choose this on the form.

Shareholders who have misplaced or never received the forms need to secure replacements if they are to avoid a significant tax bill eating up to half the value of the “windfall” payment in cash and Verizon shares from the company.

The spokeswoman for Vodafone said investors who had called Computershare earlier and had been rebuffed would now receive forms as all their details had been taken.

However, at least one shareholder contacted this morning said no details at all had been taken from her on two separate calls. She had been told only that staff had been instructed this morning that no further forms were to be issued.

Another shareholder said: “It was very clear that they were not sending forms. When I persisted, a second person came on the line to confirm that the deadline had passed.”

Both shareholders said they had since contacted Computershare again and had been told the forms would be sent in the post.

While Vodafone accepted there had been unnecessary confusion this morning on deadline day, they did stress that the original information packs and forms had been sent in December and that, given the high media profile, people had had plenty of time to seek reissue of missing forms.

It remains unclear whether shareholders will have enough time to return the forms. They are being sent by ordinary post today from Bristol and must be back with the company by 1pm next Thursday, February 20th.

The Irish Times was this morning inundated with calls and emails from anxious shareholders. More than 380,000 Irish people hold shares in the company – most dating back to an investment in the Telecom Éireann flotation in 1999. In general, the individual holdings are small, with all Irish shareholders accounting for around 1 per cent of Vodafone stock.

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