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EQLS Equals Group Plc

0.00 (0.00%)
Last Updated: 08:00:00
Delayed by 15 minutes
Share Name Share Symbol Market Type Share ISIN Share Description
Equals Group Plc LSE:EQLS London Ordinary Share GB00BLS0XX25 ORD 1P
  Price Change % Change Share Price Bid Price Offer Price High Price Low Price Open Price Shares Traded Last Trade
  0.00 0.00% 110.00 109.00 111.00 110.00 110.00 110.00 4,636 08:00:00
Industry Sector Turnover Profit EPS - Basic PE Ratio Market Cap
Finance Services 95.71M 7.75M 0.0413 26.63 206.39M
Equals Group Plc is listed in the Finance Services sector of the London Stock Exchange with ticker EQLS. The last closing price for Equals was 110p. Over the last year, Equals shares have traded in a share price range of 96.00p to 134.00p.

Equals currently has 187,627,898 shares in issue. The market capitalisation of Equals is £206.39 million. Equals has a price to earnings ratio (PE ratio) of 26.63.

Equals Share Discussion Threads

Showing 3701 to 3723 of 3725 messages
Chat Pages: 149  148  147  146  145  144  143  142  141  140  139  138  Older
Pragmatic perspective carcosa.
The options were granted during the IPO at a time when IST was trying to launch the company. It took several years before the company turned a profit. No one was questioning as to why he had not converted those options over the past years until now.

The IPO issue price valued the company at 30m, compared to todays marker value of 200m+ i.e. company is now worth more than 6x

As explained by a previous poster the reason for the extension is the ongoing Strategic Review preventing the exercise of the options (although there are special exemption rules).

This is a storm in a tea cup!

Also, referring to an earlier post, Alpha p's P/E is 33 compared with EQLS 16.

Directors get free options because it’s within the rules. I quizzed CEO of CNC on this as He did the same thing awarding himself and colleagues free shares. In his case he has earned it, having taken the reigns of company with mistaken accounts, corrected them, had a placing, bought another business and doubled the share price within 2 years. He earned it. IS-T has seen the IPo Crash from £1.70 - 20p and wants free shares for getting it back over £1.00. That’s why I say this system needs overhauling. Options should start at the IPO price minimum.
@Masurenguy the optics are appalling.

Shareholders have without doubt suffered financially due to the crass, clumsy manner in which they announced and have subsequently managed the Strategic Review, and let's put this point to bed, it was not a SR. It was solely an attempt to find a buyer. They named a company as a possible acquirer who immediately confirmed no interest and also named another, who have now removed themselves from the process. The latter being a PE company that specialises in fintech. The whole process has been beyond amateurish and as a result we've now lost the 'takeover premium' that an acquirer would have had to pay.

So yes, seeing Ian S-T having his options ringfenced has annoyed a lot of shareholders.

Alternative view...

IST could borrow the money short term and cash out the options at the prevailing price, but probably cant deal or has been unable to deal since November (insider, closed period), and if he could why would he at (say) 110 whereas if an offer proceeds at 135....

All options get taxed under PAYE at 45+2% NIC surcharge so net net, its useful but not life changing for 10 years work

Most options are cashlessly exercised and are approved by shareholders in the first place (been there, done that). Its just deferred remuneration really.

What is there to investigate ? He was granted options which evidently were due to expire, if not exercised, by 28 July 2024. In view of the ongoing Strategic Review the BoD have agreed to extend the exercise period by a further 6 months. David Stredder made a perfectly valid point in relation to the extension of the exercise date. Therefore what you really might seek to obtain is an explanation from the BoD as to why he didn't exercise them and was provided with a further 6 month extension instead. Good luck with that !
100% agree. The Board need to investigate and publish why the Remuneration committee chose this course of action.

Why should Ian S-T get a free option !!

If they are significantly in profit why did IST not convert these options earlier and within the time limitaion. He would then be fully aligned with investors rather than being carried with zero risk all the time?

There is a reason why options have limitations and end dates.

Well IST currently has 3,518,000 options at an average cost of 35.2p so if a deal is done at 1.35p they are worth £4.75m and he will subsequently clear £3.5m on them after cost deduction. In addition, he has a direct holding of 2.2m shares, which would realize a further £2.97m less their cost. He also has an undisclosed percentage of the Pembar shareholding.

I make no comment or judgment whatsoever on his shareholding/options positions other than to point out that he would still do very well at an exit price of 1.35p, if a deal with the Consortium was to be subsequently consummated at that price. If an alternative deal was done elsewhere, at around the previous concensus price point of 1.60p, then he would have a further windfall of circa £3.25m.

It’s getting murkier. Paul Scott thought maybe Eqls could fall to 80 or 90p if the deal falls through. I thought that was nuts but actually when you see a company like Alphp on a pe of 12 makes me wonder why Eqls should be on a pe of twice that. The directors have made no secret about looking for an out. If the stock market is serious about trying to encourage investors this kind of director options behaviour needs to be stamped out. The rules are well overdue a massive overhaul. How about setting options at or above the IPO price. If they improve on that then maybe they deserve a bonus on top of their big salaries.
Piggies to the trough
swiss paul
100% agree @Anon12345. Sadly for the last year or two, Equals has been run as though it's a private company and not a public one.

The crass arrogance to push this through while the rest of us have suffered from the inept attempt by Ian S-T and the Board to engineer a quick sale.

I personally have no confidence in the Board representing the interests of shareholders. I hope the likes of JPMAM and Schroder's contest it.

It's disgraceful, honestly.

These options have been exercisable for EIGHT YEARS - for a grand total exercise price of £1.2MM pounds. Ian has refused to dig into his pocket to exercise them early - despite the options being hugely in the money for years - so he runs a sale process to trigger his options, and then when the sale doesn't happen in time he simply gets an extension.

Shareholders should absolutely blast him and the BoD for this.

'At the time of the Group's IPO in 2014, Ian Strafford-Taylor, the Group's CEO, was granted an option over 192,950 new ordinary shares at 22 pence each, and two options over a total of 3,325,050 new ordinary shares at 36 pence each. In light of the ongoing offer period, the Remuneration Committee has agreed to extend the exercise period for these options for six months, to 28 January 2025'.

Well I'll sleep better tonight knowing Ian's sorted out, whereas the rest of us are paying the price for his / the Board's ill judged decision to put the 'for sale' sign up.

I'm really not sure the Board show any independence of thought or decision making.

The option extension announcement today for IST tells you everything we needed to know about why the strategic review was initiated, and why they're desperate to sell.

Self-interest remains undefeated.

I would be happy with £1.44 per share because, it would double my investment
I share the frustration of many other shareholders here at the ongoing SR without any resolution either way, extending now beyond 8 months. IST has indicated that the Consortium has made a non-binding offer of 135p subject to raising the required finance. This is well below the 160p - 175p range that many commentators were discussing when the SR process commenced and no comment was made in the last PUSU update that an offer at this price would be unacceptable to the BoD. However, the subsequent shareprice action, with the shares at virtually the same price (circa 109p - 111p) as when the SR was announced last November, suggests that the market does not think that a 135p deal will be consumated. So, we remain in the dark.

Nevertheless, there is still yet another aspect to this conumdrum that dates back to the June PUSU when it was announced that MDP would not be making an offer for the company. It stated that "MDP, together with MoneyGram International, Inc. (a portfolio company of MDP), is evaluating various potential strategic alternatives with the Company, including commercial arrangements focused on the Company's B2C business and technology platform." RNS 12 June.

Moneygram is the 2nd largest money transfer business in the world. It was acquired for $1bn by MDP just 2 years ago. Should some kind of private label deal with MoneyGram come to fruition, this could potentially constitute a financially attractive alternative option for the company to remain independent compared to accepting the current low ball provisional bid offer for the company from the Consortium.

I don't think there are hidden problems, as they would've surfaced by now (after 9 months of strategic review). More a case of management significantly overestimating the value of the business, running a weak process, and they're now conflicted because they can make much more money working for a PE firm than they can working as a small listed company.

Institutions won't reject a 135p bid given management's credibility and commitment / shareholder alignment is shot, and institutions have no other reasonable path to liquidity. The bidder obviously knows all this and has no incentive to pay up further.

One wonders what the previous offer/s were if this is an improved proposal.

"The improved Proposal follows a series of prior proposals from the Consortium and remains subject to the completion of ongoing final due diligence, which Equals is facilitating, and finalisation of acquisition financing by the Consortium. A further update will be provided in due course."

None of this makes sense, IST - when he used to give interviews - said 175, which was a broker target, was not unreasonable given what he could see coming down the pipeline.

The company is in no way acting in the best interests of shareholders - unless there are hidden problems behind the scenes.

I am not sure the institutions believe a deal is going to be done at 135p. If they did think that, then surely the price would now be a lot closer to 135 ? Instead there has been steady sales and we are 20% away.I think the institutions would like 135, purely to have a liquidity event and be able to get rid of there holdings. Credibility of mgmt is shot.
I've held here since 2018 from £1 all the way down to 20p and back up, didn't particularly enjoy the early part of the ride but quite enjoyed the ride up to last November. Since then it has obviously been a very frustrating few months.

With all the positive noises, revenue growth etc I was expecting something along the lines of 160-175p as an offer to make it appealable to the management and shareholders, so was disappointed to see 135p as the number.

I was surprised that the management have not rejected the bid out of hand given it seems to be below expectations, and below what we could have expected the share price to eventually reach if the organic growth in revenues and earnings continues over the coming years. But the fact that they haven't done so suggests they would be mindful to recommend it if financing is arranged and the bid becomes firm.

Which begs the question why if the longer term case is so optimistic. Its either a) they aren't that optimistic and/or b) they have taken soundings from large shareholders as to what price would be acceptable and 135p is 'doable'. Either before the SR was commenced or during the SR I would have expected the board to sound out large shareholders as to what they think would be acceptable, if they all said we are not interested until 170p for example, then why not just end the discussions with the consortium and plough on with running the company. The fact that they are continuing the negotiations suggests to me a significant share of the shareholder base has indicated 135p is acceptable and therefore there is a greater chance of the bid going through than the current share price would suggest.

Any thoughts??

Wrt institutional holdings I think it useful to see how their reported trades have changed in recent months i.e.

Perpetual increased holdings:
24 June 3,700,000 (+15%)
24, April 3,125,000

Small frequent movements reflecting individual investor trades using Schroders as their share dealing service(?) I really don't think an institutional trader would trade just 3000 shares, for example.

15 July: 10,471,025 (+1.5%)
04 Apr: 10,312,592

Downing: Company is being wound-up (unless activist shareholder get's their way!) so selling all their assets as was declared over a year ago.

10 June : 3,700,000 (+15%)
12 Apr: 3,125,000

04 Dec 2023: 1,657,633 No subsequent trades reported since last year(?) Have they changes their trading name? Or maybe they have simply not trade a share.

So overall other than a bit of fiddling about which could be for a host of regulatory/compliance reasons, I don't see any cause for concern. If anything recent activities show a marginal increase in institutional holdings after selling some shares when the share price increased.

To @Melcul's point, why would Insto's decrease their holdings when there were two potential bidders up until a month or so ago.

The price action is as smelly as anything. The Aim is up 15% since EQLS announced their SR, yet the share price is barely changed. Even the more remarkable when there is potentially a 135p bid on the table.

Ian S-T / the Board have diluted the value of the company because until they put up the 'for sale' sign, it was fair to assume we had shares in a sought after company with best in class technology that would command a takeover premium......that is clearly not the case.

They need to provide an honest appraisal of the business, why they put it up for sale, do they lack critical mass for long term sustainability and realistically what is achievable. The share price suggests two things, 1) the bid has no chance of happening and 2) there is an erosion of faith from shareholders that needs acknowledging and answering.

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