Unclaimed Shareholdings, Dividends and Windfall Shares

All limited companies in the UK are registered at Companies House, an Executive Agency of the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR). There are more than 2 million limited companies registered in Great Britain, and more than 300,000 new companies are incorporated each year.

Estimates are around £3 billion is owed to UK investors from unclaimed shares and dividends.

Companies House regulations stipulate that shares may not be cancelled if a holder cannot be traced; shares belong to the registered holder or rightful heir. If authorised by its articles, however, a company may retain any dividends that remain unclaimed after a certain period, generally 12 years.

It is estimated that, on average, between 2% and 5% of a company’s shareholders have either moved from the address to which the company sends correspondence, or have died.

To track down lost  shares the first step should be to contact the company’s share registrar, in cases where the company name is known. There are three main registrars in the UK – Capita, Lloyds TSB / Equiniti and ComputerShare. For contact information see below.

Registrars can also assist in tracing the history of the company including and mergers, takeovers or name changes that have occurred over the years. If the company changed name, new certificates can be issued. The registrar can also tell you if there are any unclaimed dividend payments or merger consideration.

Sometimes, when a company gets taken over, shares become ‘unconditional’. This means the company retains most of the shares and shareholders must sell. If they do not, the shareholder’s name goes on a dissenters’ register and will remain there for 12 years, during which time you may make a claim.

After 12 years have passed since the takeover, the money is transferred across to the Accountant General of the Supreme Court. Claims after the 12 year period has passed must be submitted here. Note that any unclaimed dividend payments unclaimed after 12 years will be lost.

The Guildhall Library in London is a specialist library focusing on the financial district which keeps detailed records on the history of all companies listed on the stock market, if the registrar is unable to provide the information you need.

For companies incorporated in England & Wales
The Registrar of Companies
Companies House
Crown Way
Cardiff CF14 3UZ
DX33050 Cardiff
Tel: 0870 3333636

http://www.companieshouse.gov.uk

For companies incorporated in Scotland
The Registrar of Companies
Companies House
37 Castle Terrace
Edinburgh EH1 2EB
DX ED235 Edinburgh 1
LP – 4 Edinburgh 2
Tel: 0870 3333636

http://www.companieshouse.gov.uk

Note: Perhaps the largest source of unclaimed shares is windfall shares still unclaimed arising from financial services firms that have demutualised over the last ten years. Nearly £1bn in windfall shares belonging to more than half a million people remains unclaimed.

Scottish Life demutualised in 2001 and has issued a final call to around 15,000 former members who have yet to claim around £7.5m, with the minimum payout worth at least £500. Standard Life has 222,000 ex-members who have yet to claim 83 million shares worth a total of around £261m, amounting to 4.2% of the company. Friends Provident demutualised in July 2001, but still has an estimated 140,000 policyholders who have yet to make a claim for windfalls worth an average of £1,200. Unclaimed shares were converted to cash in 2004 and held for future claimants. Scottish Widows has more than 59,000 untraced members entitled to unclaimed compensation totalling £153m following the company’s acquisition by Lloyds TSB in March 2000. Halifax still has unclaimed windfalls worth £158m from its demutualisation in 1997 and estimates that 75,000 former members have yet to come forward!

Unclaimed UK Government Stock and Gilts
Computershare Investor Services
Registrar’s Department
PO Box 2411
The Pavilions
Bristol BS3 9WX
Tel: 0870 703 0143

https://www-uk.computershare.com
Unclaimed UK Government Stock Information

Search unclaimed Government stock and interest payments
Capita Registrars
Capita Registrars
Shareholder Administration Support

34 Beckenham Road
Beckenham
Kent
BR3 4TU

Tel: 0870 600 3989
International Tel: +44 (0) 20 8639 3399

http://www.capitaregistrars.com/
E-mail: shareportal@capita.co.uk
Equiniti
Equiniti
Aspect House – Spencer Road
Lancing
West Sussex
BN99 6DA
Tel: 0870 600 3989

http://www.shareview.co.uk
Death of a Shareholder

Lost Share Certificates

Trace Your Unclaimed Funds Now!