Legal & General’s charm offensive to its shareholders didn’t go unnoticed by the Squires yesterday morning. After a piece on the Today Programme describing how L&G would from now on only invest in sound companies and avoid any which were badly affecting our climate and environment, articles appeared across the Web like this one outlining L&G’s new approach.
Companies that ignore environmental issues, planning policies and local community wishes rarely succeed long term – they accumulate ill will amongst their shareholders and lose business. It is somewhat ironic then that it was L&G who were preaching this message of reform, given that they are currently guilty of planning to destroy our Great British countryside. It is interesting that they reference their ‘lesson learnt’ but fail to mention that they were refused planning permission – and lost the appeal without any reimbursement of costs – to destroy an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty at Beckford in the Cotswolds. Clearly, they haven’t learnt their lesson just yet.
Our first magazine article related to L&G’s countryside destruction policies, “Legal & General Risk All” dated 6 April 2018 drew attention to L&G’s perceived business risks associated with their acquisition of English Care Villages (ECV) in order to enter the UK Care Village market.
By 10 January 2019, L&G’s Care Village growth plans had become clear, so we published an Open Letter to the L&G Board, “Do L&G Hate the British Countryside ?” This letter questioned L&G’s involvement with – and the actions of – their subsidiary company ‘Inspired Villages (ECV)’ regarding the wanton destruction of our countryside and the environment at various UK sites.
One of our magazine’s loyal readers became so concerned about L&G’s strategy that he followed up on this article with emails to L&G. They simply refuted their involvement in the identified development sites but offered no meaningful explanation. The apparent discrepancies coming from L&G were detailed in an article here.
At no time have L&G communicated with Country Squire Magazine. At no point was any satisfactory explanation of the following facts offered by L&G: that L&G acquired ECV in 2017, formed ‘Inspired Villages’, that Mr Keith Cockell is Chairman of both Inspired Villages and ECV, and that L&G are currently embarking on a development strategy that would destroy significant areas of the UK’s precious countryside and its legally-protected wildlife. By business association, L&G are accountable for Inspired Village’s/ECV’s strategy and are therefore supporting their appalling behaviours.
L&G’s PR message yesterday also emphasised the power that shareholders / investors have to influence companies that they invest in if they are not behaving ethically. They can recommend what action to take. It seems peculiar that a magnificent City investment house like Schroders are a major shareholder in L&G. One of the Squires has family connections to Schroders and is appalled at L&G’s lacklustre and offhand conduct. Schroders will be embarrassed to be involved in any way with the shenanigans of L&G once their board reads these articles, which shall be forwarded to them immediately.
In the words of the BBC in the L&G piece yesterday: “the VERY best way for investors to exert pressure is to sell their shares – or not become shareholders of misbehaving companies in the first place.”
L&G’s reputation risks are growing the longer they involve themselves in projects which seek to destroy the British countryside and get involved in the care village sector which has a history of ripping off the very same clients on which L&G’s previous good name was established.