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Thread: Holmesdale BS - what is all this about?

  1. #11
    Expert planteria will become famous soon enough
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    i think our Happy ought to be a journo

  2. #12
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    It's shocking but sadly not surprising.

    It's the biggest scam going right now - the way Building Societies have created and propagated the myth they are somehow better than banks.

    Most building societies have too many executives and directors who are paid too much and in too many cases are paid more than their counterparts in the dreaded banks.

    They get the Golden Hellos, the excessive pay and bonuses which get paid regardless of how poorly the society performs. If the Building Society catastrophically under performs or if it performs criminally then the directors - rather than accept the responsibilities they are massively overpaid to accept - generally ignore it, any fines are paid by the members and if the directors simply have to go (or want to go for any personal reason) then they get a massive pay off.

    Building Societies do not usually inform their "owners" of takeover approaches and if a takeover approach is revealed then "owners" money is spent freely to do whatever is possible to stop a takeover happening. Unless the directors want a takeover (because they are retiring early or because they have been offered a highly paid directorship with whoever is doing the takeover) in which case the "owners" money is spent promoting the takeover...

    Recent history is littered with societies that have lost millions on dodgy deals, paid millions to second rate if not absolutely dodgy directors, have refused to reveal takeover offers, there was the Century (just recently) sold off cheaply with the few existing staff giving no job guarantees while the valuable premises were given away to the Scottish Building Society who took them over.

    Now this latest rum looking deal.

    The heavily over-directored Holmesdale spends a comparatively vast sum of money on "experts" to tell them how to do their job (which they should know how to do anyway) and it turns out the recipient company getting all this largesse just happens to have one of the directors as a main shareholder?

    So - at face value - one of the Holmesdale directors selected his own company to undertake this matter and then voted for them to be appointed?

    The obvious questions are:

    1 What sort of selection and tendering process took place to identify Tiptree as a contractor?

    2 Did Mark Thompson exclude himself from the decision process / vote that awarded the contract?

    3 What safeguards were in place to rule out fraudulent behaviour and accusations of fiscal impropriety?

    I am another who feels an attempt to get the press interested in this story would be a good idea.

    1User
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  3. #13
    HB
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    The three questions you pose are very valid. I suspect if I make my own enquiries to HBS I suspect I will a) be told they can't divulge such information as it is commercially sensitive etc; and b) will be thrown out in the same way as the "Portman 500" were.

    Don't even get me started (again) on the Century BS vote [the normal turnout of about 5% miraculously became 45% for that vote, and the votes were counted 'in house' with no independent scrutineers; yeah right].
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  4. #14
    Enthusiast carpetmuncher will become famous soon enough
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    "This kind of deal demands further investigation."
    It sounds like an investigation by the SFO rather than a journo.
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  5. #15
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    HB

    No way would I suggest you approach the Holmesdale yourself. However would you consider contacting a suitable newspaper and invite them to take enquiries further?

    I am sure you are aware I regularly link to stories from the Mail website. They regularly print stories critical to building societies.

    Send them the story and they either run with it or not. Nothing lost.

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  6. #16
    HB
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    Astonishing how things managed to "fall into place just at the right time" for Mr Thompson

    Mail on Sunday / thisismoney article in 2011
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  7. #17
    HB
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    Quote Originally Posted by HB View Post
    According to Holmesdale BS he is also a "Major Shareholder" in Tiptree
    He certainly is.

    50% of the company is held by MARK THOMPSON
    50% of the company is held by JACQULINE THOMPSON

    source

    I wonder if he's going to get the Society to put some work the way of MF Residential Holdings next?

    Both companies run from the flat above The Gamers' Guild shop in Redhill
    Last edited by HB; 13th November 2014 at 05:12 PM.
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  8. #18
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    HB

    OK. I'll bite.

    From the links you've provided Thompson joins Holmesdale in April 2011. His job then was described as "Environmental Technology Analyst" with the Investment Bank Religare Capital Markets. RCM seems to be a small Indian based but multinational business. However it downsized in 2012 and began to run down it's UK presence...

    However at face value Thompson has a financial background which could benefit a building society.

    Thompson then sets up the Tiptree House Investments business in March 2012 - which seems prior to the redundancies at RCM - and they do what exactly?

    According to this website [ http://www.tiptreehouse.com/index.html ] which seems to be the website for Tiptree they:

    Tiptree Investments works with companies in the environmental technology sector, investing its capital, while helping management and shareholders grow the business. Tiptree's role is that of a traditional merchant bank, allying its interests with our partners, and receiving our return from the enhanced value achieved on account of our contacts, experience and expertise.

    Which seems to link well with his original role at RCM. He uses his presumed expertise and experience in environmental technology and finance to - in his own words - act like a merchant bank and invest in these companies.

    So how does that explain the commission from the Holmesdale (to the tune of £57,000) to help the building society increase their mortgage book?

    Being positive: He's claiming (and I have no reason to doubt the claims) to be experienced in corporate finance and providing corporate level advice on financial and business strategy.

    Less positively: His background and the stated aim of Tiptree is in "Traditional Merchant Banking" which could be judged as at odds with a Mutual Building Society ("We're different to banks") although, in reality, I suspect there are a lot of similarities.

    However the stated, usual, practise of Tiptree is to invest in the companies they get involved with, to gain influence with the companies they invest in and Tiptree specifically work to float companies on AIM. I mention this NOT to imply Holmesdale are moving towards a float but merely to highlight a potential for a basic conflict in the stated aims of the building society and Tiptree.

    Being negative: Clearly it is a possibility Tiptree could have the knowledge which could assist Holmesdale. However the questions I posited before remain glaring concerns:

    1) What tendering process identified Tiptree as the best outside contractor?

    2) Did Thompson himself vote on the selection of Tiptree? (Was it even put to a vote? Was it within Thompson's gift!)

    3) What safeguards were in place to avoid impropriety and what safeguards to avoid suggestions (even if ultimately unfounded) of impropriety?

    1User

  9. #19
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    Actually...

    There is another big question here.

    Thompson's background in finance and banking with RCM and Tiptree could easily mean he does have the skill set to help the Holmesdale.

    So another big question is WHY isn't he USING that skill to help the Holmesdale while working in his (well paid) capacity as a director and indeed chairman? A tiny society with about 20 staff (and at a glance 9 directors listed)!

    It's like: We pay Thompson to run the society. He identifies a problem. He offers to solve it using his skill and expertise (which is why we made him chairman in the first place)... But he'll only solve it if FIRST we slip him a £57,000 bung in his private company!

    1User
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  10. #20
    Junior Member chuckieegg is an unknown quantity at this point
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    Why not write to the society and ask?
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