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Club Background

A background to the CAMRA Members’ Investment Club
– by John Hattersley, Chairman

At the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) AGM in Aberdeen in 1989, a small group of activists decided that they wanted to invest in the industry that they cared about in such a way that would help to reinforce their ideals and beliefs.

At the same time they were not averse to the idea of making some money!

From those tentative beginnings, the CAMRA Members’ Investment Club (CMIC) has grown into what is probably the largest investment club in the UK (with c3000 members and assets roughly valued at £17m) alongside, but in no way to be confused with, the largest consumers’ campaign group in the UK.

Let there be no confusion: there are no CAMRA monies involved in CMIC! The investments are owned by the club’s members and nobody else.

CMIC is, of course, sympathetic with the broader campaign. It was born out of CAMRA. When asked by the National Executive to amend its name in order not to cause any confusion with the campaign’s bid for super-complainant status, it did so readily.

It is a pre-requisite of CMIC membership that applicants have to be CAMRA members.

CMIC is run democratically but in accordance with finance industry best practice. It has no full time officers but is managed by a committee who are elected by the CMIC membership on a rotating basis. The committee members do not receive fees or expenses.

The club holds an annual general meeting, and its rules are approved by that meeting. Present and former CMIC committee members have included past chairmen and national executive members of CAMRA, former CAMRA committee chairs, and active working party members.

The committee draws upon a wide background and variety of skills, including accountancy and investment management backgrounds, a serving publican and a director of a brewery and pub chain, a former pension fund trustee and investment advisor, and a small company business advisor.

CMIC is organised along the lines of a unit trust, with minimum and maximum contribution rates payable monthly or annually.

There is no restriction on the number of units an individual (or couple) can own, but there is a minimum investment value of £20. Irrespective of size of investment, it is one investor one vote at the AGM.

“Supporting and Promoting The Cause of Real Ale”– CAMRA Members’ Investment Club

The day-to-day administration of CMIC is contracted out to a qualified accountancy practice, independent of the committee, and the quoted investments are securely held in a nominee name maintained by one of the club’s two retained stockbrokers: they are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. The accounts are inspected annually by independent accountants. There is, therefore, no financial or reputational risk to CAMRA from the club.

CMIC invests in a variety of stocks and shares (quoted and unlisted) in companies operating in both the production and retailing of real ale, and allied trades including large and small breweries, pub owning companies, and property businesses operating in the pub sector.

The full spectrum of holdings is published on the website portfolio: they range from the likes of Adnams and Fullers, through to Shepherd Neame and Wetherspoon, down to Twickenham and Loch Lomond.

CMIC actively exercises its voting entitlement whenever possible and has offered to vote its position on CAMRA’s behalf when requested. Indeed, by being seen to support the industry, investee companies regard CMIC as being a financial manifestation of CAMRA’s commitment to it, and members are warmly welcomed when they make their brewery visits or attend annual general meetings.

CMIC is a member of the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) and has met with them to discuss the challenges smaller breweries face, and through its dialogue with the companies in which it invests, CMIC has promoted the cause of cask beer.

Although disrupted by the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, the CMIC’s annual general meeting (usually held in June) normally has a guest speaker and members of the committee frequently contribute articles to What’s Brewing and Beer magazine.

“With a membership of circa 3000, CMIC believes it represents a significant body of opinion within CAMRA’s broader campaign.

We look forward to continuing to operate alongside, and co-operate with, our “mother” organisation in supporting and promoting the cause of real ale.”– John Hattersley, Chairman