Introduction & Company Strategy

The AGM was held in a rather pleasant 7th Floor office in the heart of Paris, close to the Arc de Triomphe and with a view to the Eiffel Tower. I asked why Paris was the venue chosen for the meeting and this comes down to Polo’s tax status: being a BVI company, holding the AGM in the UK may cause questions to be asked by the UK tax authorities. Neil Herbert and Catherine Sugarman (Company Secretary) were present in person. Stephen Dattels participated by teleconference at the start of the meeting, for the formal business but we agreed that Neil would be able to answer my questions, so it was not necessary for SD to participate throughout.

I was impressed by Neil. He came across as straightforward and well informed. Someone I would be happy to do business with. Middle age is definitely having its effect on me as he seemed quite youthful by comparison. :0( His track record is impressive, starting with PWC, progressing to the financial controller role at Fags (Antofagasta ) and then on to successful roles, first at Brancote Holdings, then Galahad Gold and at Uramin. Tax complexities at Galahad, being a UK registered firm, had to caused those involved to be rather keen to see Polo established outside the UK’s tax jurisdiction. It was also clear to me that Neil was not privy to all of Dattels’ deals and activities – but I felt that he was not Dattels’ “stooge” and would be prepared to stand up to him if he felt justified.

One of my mains reasons for attending the AGM was to try to uncover Polo’s longer term intentions. This proved most interesting. As I had anticipated, Neil acknowledged that one or more of Polo’s current major investments may liquidate as the result of an external bid (or other event). Whilst it is possible that some or all of the cash may be returned to shareholders in such an eventuality, my impression was that this should not be assumed to be the outcome. The Board has not yet reached a firm conclusion and will actively debate the company’s future at the appropriate time (NB I note from the AR that an extraordinary 35 Board Meetings were held last year!). Though Polo has stated that its commodity focus has switched from coal to uranium, another switch…

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