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Committee Meeting

2 August 2023

Minutes of a Committee Meeting held at The Wharf, Castlefield, Manchester on Wednesday 2 August 2023. Present were Ann Mace, Colin Bodimeade, Ian Brindley, Bob Crumpton, John Hattersley, Chris Holmes, and Neil Kellett. Paul Horrocks (Allens) and Nick Metcalfe (Co Sec). Apologies from Dave Goodwin, Iain Loe, and John Westlake (Mike Sangster of Allens).

Minutes of the meetings held on Wednesday 7 June and Saturday 17 June 2023 were approved.

‘Between Meeting Events’ – NM advised there had been numerous trading updates and reports received from investees since the last Committee meeting, and five offers of shares received: of these, two had been rejected (including a micro crowdfunding), two auction outcomes had been partially successful; one successful at a reduced price. It was noted that Adnams A shares now traded on AssetMatch, subject to registration. NM chastened Committee’s on tardy and incomplete response to recent Stockport emails.

Membership numbers continued to decline with majority of leavers citing ‘cash requirement’ and ‘leaving CAMRA’ as their reason for going.

Month end accounts for June and July 2023 were reviewed and agreed; also, the present carry value of Hydes and Beer Consortium shares were approved.

NM summarised the five items of members’ feedback received. One was fairly trenchant criticism of the Committee over Black Sheep to which Chair had responded, and apparently placated. One suggested investing in a brew pub. One concerned a brewery visit report, which the member felt was unfair: after consulting the Committee member responsible the Chair had responded to the member. One advised that the member’s branch had not agreed to securing a CMIC link on their website. It was agreed to include an explanation of Committee’s decision making process in the next Club Matters and that producing future abridged minutes be delegated to IB and AM.

There was a thorough review of the organisational issues and demand for brewery trips 2023, prompted by the Club’s limited resources and disruption caused by Covid. It was agreed that going forward there be no ‘internationals’, and ‘within UK investees only’ (where possible) and potentially limited to a maximum of 3 visits/annum. More research was required to find out possible sites for 2024. Consider again next meeting.

No further work on the podcast yet. Idea of dedicating part of website for ‘guest commentaries’ or similar received positive response: to be worked up.

It was agreed to maintain the status quo on ‘Non-Contributing Members’ – although there is an attendant cost, it is marginal. Agreed that monthly management information should differentiate between those holding but £20 and those who have left CAMRA retaining larger amounts in CMIC. To be reviewed in a year’s time.

Updates were received from investee companies. Despite suggestions from other aggrieved Black Sheep shareholders of potential litigation, none had made contact with Club or responded to Club approaches. Black Sheep NewCo has now shut 3 of its (4) pubs. AGMs at Shaftesbury, Whitbread, Young’s, and Fuller’s had been attended. Now understood that McMullen was offering secondary trading on two classes of shares, ‘non-voting’ (rare, apparently) and ‘preferred’ (more common, non-voting but carrying a small amount of fixed interest).

A lengthy round-the-table discussion on the Club’s future and investment criteria post-BS landscape, i.e., should CMIC be making any further investments whatsoever in ‘illiquids’? A majority favoured some continued investment (basically, the members would expect it of us…) within existing asset allocation guidelines, but with enhanced monitoring where/if possible and clearer understanding of exit routes. The minority ‘no’s’ were very clear though – we are handling members’ monies, we are not a charity or a campaign, we should go nowhere near start-ups/crowdfunders, publicly quoted companies only please, and if we could get rid of our illiquids now we should do so. Widely understood that all expectations are irreconcilable; whilst we cannot please all of the members all of the time, protecting capital is paramount, but there must be room for some limited and controlled ‘speculation’.

Drilling deeper still, with falling member numbers and an increasingly elderly membership, is it now time for CMIC to call it a day, liquidate itself and distribute its monies? Whilst this existential threat is acknowledged, “not yet” is the consensus view – no mutterings at the AGM or elsewhere from members along these lines, and with rare exception ‘monthly money in’ exceeds ‘monthly money out’ etc. Agreed that 3 continuous months of negative cash flow should act as an appropriate trigger for further review. Also, and perhaps more importantly still, we should redouble efforts at new (younger) member recruitment. Consider again next meeting.

Available monies used to add to 5 existing investees, including three overseas.

Committee re-elected JNH to act as Chair.