By Tom Winnifrith | Tuesday 10 January 2017
Disclosure: Financial Investigative Media Limited, which is not owned by Tom Winnifrith but by a trust for his dependants, owns shares in companies mentioned in this article. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from ShareProphets). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.
In a ruling handed out on December 21 but published today the Takeover Panel has handed out the most severe sentence in its history to City grandee and veteran financier Bob Morton and also branded him a liar for the way he tried to cover up his actions.
This is the fourth time Moron has been found wanting by the Panel and that offset concerns about the poor health of the 78 year old Jersey resident who the panel admits is in the "twilight of his business career". The events happened some years ago and concern what was then an investment company on ISDX - Hubco. These days that is on AIM and known as Big Sofa (BST) and there is no suggestion of any wrongdoing by anyone currently involved.
In essence Morton controlled vehicles took their combined holdings over 30% but in order to avoid a mandatory offer, when this was discovered, Morton created a fiction that one purchase had been made by a friend of his son, a Mr John Garner. Mr Mortin then bought shares in Mr Garner's company from him so he was not out of pocket.
What appears to have enraged the Panel is not so much the offence by the way that Morton repeatedly lied to cover it up. The judgement goes into great detail on what he did and even covers expletive ridden - almost comical - calls involving Morton.
The punishment, the most severe in the history of the Panel is a six year "cold shoulder"
The Panel describes it thus:
The most serious disciplinary power exercisable by the Takeover Panel is to cold-shoulder an offender by declaring the offender to be a person who in the opinion of the Panel is not likely to comply with the Code. Such a declaration triggers the consequence described in section 11(b)(v) of the Introduction to the Code, namely that, while the sanction remains effective, under the rules of the FCA and certain professional bodies, their members become obliged in certain circumstances not to act for the person in question in a transaction subject to the Code. The seriousness of this sanction is evident from the fact that it has only been used twice before during the Takeover Panel's history.
Morton is a likeable man who always offers you a glass of champagne when you meet up. He is loveable but - as is now abundantly clear for all to see - also a bit of a rogue.
The small cap world may miss his capital but perhaps not his presence.
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