Shareholder anger ahead of Symbian vote

Private investors who want to prevent Psion's 31 percent stake in Symbian falling into Nokia's clutches claim they're being hamstrung by City apathy

A group of Psion shareholders who are battling to prevent Nokia buying Psion's 31 percent stake in Symbian have claimed that City institutions aren't examining the proposal in enough detail.

These small shareholders believe that rather than selling out to Nokia, Psion should instead push for Symbian's flotation. Opponents of the sale claim that an IPO would generate much more money for shareholders. They are accusing institutional stockholders -- such as pension funds and tracker funds -- of apathy and ignorance ahead of Friday's vote on the proposed sale of Psion's stake in Symbian.

"Large institutional shareholders are under pressure from the government to actively exercise their votes. It sounds like a good thing. Unfortunately these institutions have only limited resources available and simply run down a list of 'good governance' checkboxes," said one Psion shareholder. "Once these are ticked off, they automatically vote with management as they simply don't have the resources to examine whether management's intentions will actually create shareholder value."

Psion chairman David Potter, who owns 12 percent of the company's stock, has already said he will vote in favour of selling Psion's stake to Nokia for an estimated £135.7m. If most institutional investors also support the sale, then the proposal appears likely to be passed at Psion's extraordinary general meeting on Friday.

Rebellious Psion shareholders also claim that some private investors aren't even in a position to take part in the vote. In some cases, they say, this is because the shares are held through a broker -- who may never pass on details about the vote. Several private investors claim to have encountered significant resistance when attempting to get hold of their voting forms. It's thought that this could be because some brokers don't want to incur the costs involved with putting voting systems in place.