Shareholder information

Financial calendar for the 2012 financial year

Interim management statement22 July 2011
Half-year financial results announcement 8 November 2011

Further details will be published at as they become available. Results announcements are available online at – we do not publish them in the press.

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Full details on the dividend amount per share can be found in "Financial position and resources". Set out below is information relevant to the final dividend for the year ended 31 March 2011.

Ex-dividend date1 June 2011
Record date 3 June 2011
Dividend reinvestment plan last election date 15 July 2011
Dividend payment date(1) 5 August 2011
  1. Note:
  2. Payment date for both ordinary shares and american depositary shares (‘ADSs’).

Dividend payment methods

Currently holders of ordinary shares and ADSs can:

  • have cash dividends paid direct to a bank or building society account; or
  • elect to use the cash dividends to purchase more Vodafone ordinary shares under the dividend reinvestment plan (see below) or, in the case of ADSs, have the dividends reinvested to purchase additional Vodafone ADSs.

ADS holders can, in addition to the above, have their cash dividends paid in the form of a cheque.

Holders of ordinary shares:

  • resident in the UK automatically receive their dividends in pounds sterling provided that UK bank details have been provided to the Company;
  • resident in the eurozone (defined for this purpose as a country that has adopted the euro as its national currency) automatically receive their dividends in euros provided that euro bank details have been provided to the Company; and
  • resident outside the UK and eurozone automatically receive dividends in pounds sterling by lodging UK bank account details but may elect to receive dividends in local currency into their bank account directly via our registrars’ global payments service. Visit for details, and terms and conditions.

For dividend payments in euros, the sterling/euro exchange rate will be determined by us in accordance with the Company’s articles of association, up to 13 business days prior to the payment date.

We will pay the ADS depositary, BNY Mellon, its dividend in US dollars. The sterling/US dollar exchange rate for this purpose will be determined by us up to ten New York and London business days prior to the payment date. Cash dividends to ADS holders will be paid by the ADS depositary in US dollars.

Further information about the dividend payments can be found at or, alternatively, please contact our registrars or the ADS depositary, as applicable, for further details.

Dividend reinvestment

We offer a dividend reinvestment plan which allows holders of ordinary shares, who choose to participate, to use their cash dividends to acquire additional shares in the Company. These are purchased on their behalf by the plan administrator through a low cost dealing arrangement.

For ADS holders BNY Mellon maintains a Global BuyDIRECT Plan which is a direct purchase and sale plan for depositary receipts with a dividend reinvestment facility.

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Registrars and transfer office

If private shareholders have any enquiries about their holding of ordinary shares, such as a change of address, change of ownership or dividend payments, they should contact our registrars at the address or telephone number below. Computershare Investor Services PLC maintain the Company’s share register and holders of ordinary shares can visit the registrars’ investor centre at to view and update details of their shareholding.

ADS holders should address any queries or instructions regarding their holdings to the depositary bank for the Company’s ADR programme at the address or telephone number below. At ADS holders can view their account information, make changes and conduct many other transactions.

The Registrars
Computershare Investor Services PLC
The Pavilions
Bridgwater Road, Bristol BS99 6ZZ, England
Telephone: +44 (0)870 702 0198

ADS depositary
BNY Mellon
BNY Mellon Shareowner Services
PO Box 358516
Pittsburgh, PA 15252-8516, US
Telephone: +1 800 233 5601 (toll free) or, for calls outside the US, +1 201 680 6837 (not toll free) and enter company number 2160

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Holders of ordinary shares resident in Ireland:
Computershare Investor Services (Ireland) Limited
PO Box 9742
Dublin 18, Ireland
Telephone: +353 (0)818 300 999

Telephone share dealing

A telephone share dealing service operated by our registrars is available for holders of ordinary shares. The service is available from 8.00 am to 4.30 pm, Monday to Friday, excluding bank holidays, on telephone number +44 (0)870 703 0084. Detailed terms and conditions are available on request by calling the above number.

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Internet share dealing

An internet share dealing service is available for holders of ordinary shares who want to buy or sell ordinary shares. Further information about this service can be obtained from our registrars on +44 (0)870 702 0198 or by logging onto

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Online shareholder services

We provide a number of shareholder services online at where shareholders may:

  • register to receive electronic shareholder communications. Benefits to shareholders include faster receipt of communications, such as annual reports, with cost and time savings for the Company. Electronic shareholder communications are also more environmentally friendly;
  • update registered address or dividend bank mandate instructions;
  • view and/or download the 2011 annual report;
  • check the current share price;
  • calculate dividend payments; and
  • use interactive tools to calculate the value of shareholdings, look up the historic price on a particular date and chart Vodafone ordinary share price changes against indices.

Shareholders and other interested parties can also receive company press releases, including London Stock Exchange announcements, by registering for Vodafone news via the website at Registering for Vodafone news will enable users to:

  • access the latest news from their mobile; and
  • have news automatically emailed to them.
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Annual general meeting (‘AGM’)

The twenty-seventh AGM of the Company will be held at The Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Broad Sanctuary, Westminster, London SW1P 3EE on 26 July 2011 at 11.00 a.m.

A combined review of the year and notice of AGM, including details of the business to be conducted at the AGM, will be circulated to shareholders or can be viewed on our website at Shareholders who have registered to receive communications electronically will receive an email notification when the document is available to view on the website.

The AGM will be transmitted via a live webcast which can be viewed on the website at on the day of the meeting and a recording will be available to view after that date.

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We support ShareGift, the charity share donation scheme (registered charity number 1052686). Through ShareGift shareholders who have only a very small number of shares, which might be considered uneconomic to sell, are able to donate them to charity. Donated shares are aggregated and sold by ShareGift, the proceeds being passed on to a wide range of UK charities. Donating shares to charity gives rise neither to a gain nor a loss for UK capital gains tax purposes and UK taxpayers may also be able to claim income tax relief on the value of the donation.

ShareGift transfer forms specifically for our shareholders are available from our registrars, Computershare Investor Services PLC, and even if the share certificate has been lost or destroyed, the gift can be completed. The service is generally free. However, there may be an indemnity charge for a lost or destroyed share certificate where the value of the shares exceeds £100. Further details about ShareGift can be obtained from its website at or at 17 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AH (telephone: +44 (0)207 930 3737).

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Asset Checker Limited

We participate in Asset Checker, the online service which provides a search facility for solicitors and probate professionals to quickly and easily trace UK shareholdings relating to deceased estates. For further information visit or call +44 (0)870 707 4004.

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Share price history

Upon flotation of the Company on 11 October 1988 the ordinary shares were valued at 170 pence each. When the Company was finally demerged on 16 September 1991 the base cost of Racal Electronics Plc shares for UK taxpayers was apportioned between the Company and Racal Electronics Plc for Capital Gains Tax purposes in the ratio of 80.036% and 19.964% respectively. Opening share prices on 16 September 1991 were 332 pence for each Vodafone share and 223 pence for each Racal share.

On 21 July 1994 the Company effected a bonus issue of two new shares for every one then held and on 30 September 1999 it effected a bonus issue of four new shares for every one held at that date. The flotation and demerger share prices therefore may be restated as 11.333 pence and 22.133 pence respectively.

On 31 July 2006 the Group returned approximately £9 billion to shareholders in the form of a B share arrangement. As part of this arrangement, and in order to facilitate historical share price comparisons, the Group’s share capital was consolidated on the basis of seven new ordinary shares for every eight ordinary shares held at this date. Share prices in the five year data table below have not been restated to reflect this consolidation.

The closing share price at 31 March 2011 was 176.5 pence (31 March 2010: 152.0 pence). The closing share price on 16 May 2011 was 168.3 pence.

The following tables set out, for the periods indicated, i) the reported high and low middle market quotations of ordinary shares on the London Stock Exchange, and ii) the reported high and low sales prices of ADSs on the New York Stock Exchange (‘NYSE’)/NASDAQ. The Company transferred its ADSs from the NYSE to NASDAQ on 29 October 2009.

  London Stock
Pounds per
ordinary share
Dollars per ADS
Year ended 31 March High Low   High Low
2007 1.54 1.08   29.85 20.07
2008 1.98 1.36   40.87 26.88
2009 1.70 0.96   32.87 15.30
2010 1.54 1.11   24.04 17.68
2011 1.85 1.27   32.70 18.21
  London Stock
Pounds per
ordinary share
Dollars per ADS
Quarter High Low   High Low
First quarter 1.33 1.11   20.08 17.68
Second quarter 1.44 1.12   23.85 18.25
Third quarter 1.45 1.32   24.04 21.10
Fourth quarter 1.54 1.32   23.32 21.32
First quarter 1.53 1.27   23.79 18.21
Second quarter 1.65 1.36   25.80 20.71
Third quarter 1.80 1.57   28.52 28.84
Fourth quarter 1.85 1.67   32.70 26.34
First quarter(2) 1.83 1.66   29.46 27.12
  London Stock
Pounds per
ordinary share
Dollars per ADS
Month High Low   High Low
November 2010 1.80 1.59   28.52 24.84
December 2010 1.72 1.60   27.10 25.62
January 2011 1.85 1.68   32.70 26.34
February 2011 1.83 1.72   29.75 27.90
March 2011 1.85 1.67   29.67 26.71
April 2011 1.83 1.69   29.46 28.06
May 2011(2) 1.74 1.66   29.27 27.12
  1. Notes:
  2. Payment date for both ordinary shares and american depositary shares (‘ADSs’).
  3. Covering period up to 16 May 2011.
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Inflation and foreign currency translation


Inflation has not had a significant effect on the Group’s results of operations and financial condition during the three years ended 31 March 2011.

Foreign currency translation

The following table sets out the pounds sterling exchange rates of the other principal currencies of the Group, being: “euros”, “€” or “eurocents”, the currency of the European Union (‘EU’) member states which have adopted the euro as their currency, and “US dollars”, “US$”, “cents” or “¢”, the currency of the US.

   31 March%
Currency (=£1) 2011 2010 change
Euro 1.18 1.13 4.4
US dollar 1.56 1.60 (2.5)
At 31 March:      
Euro 1.13 1.12 0.9
US dollar 1.61 1.52 5.9

The following table sets out, for the periods and dates indicated, the period end, average, high and low exchanges rates for pounds sterling expressed in US dollars per £1.00.

Year ended 31 March31 MarchAverageHighLow
2007 1.97 1.89 1.98 1.74
2008 1.99 2.01 2.11 1.94
2009 1.43 1.72 2.00 1.37
2010 1.52 1.60 1.70 1.44
2011 1.61 1.56 1.64 1.43

The following table sets out, for the periods indicated, the high and low exchange rates rates for pounds sterling expressed in US dollars per £1.00.

Month     High Low
November 2010     1.63 1.56
December 2010     1.59 1.54
January 2011     1.60 1.55
February 2011     1.63 1.60
March 2011     1.64 1.60
April 2011     1.67 1.61
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Ordinary shares of Vodafone Group Plc are traded on the London Stock Exchange and in the form of ADSs on NASDAQ. The Company had a total market capitalisation of approximately £86.4 billion at 16 May 2011 making it the second largest listing in The Financial Times Stock Exchange 100 index and the 28th largest company in the world based on market capitalisation at that date.

ADSs, each representing ten ordinary shares, are traded on NASDAQ under the symbol ‘VOD’. The ADSs are evidenced by ADRs issued by BNY Mellon, as depositary, under a deposit agreement, dated as of 12 October 1988, as amended and restated on 26 December 1989, 16 September 1991, 30 June 1999, 31 July 2006 and 30 July 2009 between the Company, the depositary and the holders from time to time of ADRs issued thereunder.

ADS holders are not members of the Company but may instruct BNY Mellon on the exercise of voting rights relative to the number of ordinary shares represented by their ADSs. See “Articles of association and applicable English law – Rights attaching to the Company’s shares – Voting rights”.

Shareholders at 31 March 2011

Number of ordinary shares heldNumber of
% of total
issued shares
1 – 1,000 430,021 0.21
1,001 – 5,000 79,461 0.32
5,001 – 50,000 27,629 0.61
50,001 – 100,000 1,126 0.14
100,001 – 500,000 1,094 0.44
More than 500,000 1,636 98.28
  540,967 100.00

Geographical analysis of shareholders

At 31 March 2011 approximately 46.9% of the Company’s shares were held in the UK, 30.2% in North America, 14.4% in Europe (excluding the UK) and 8.5% in the rest of the world.

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Major shareholders

BNY Mellon, as custodian of the Company’s ADR programme, held approximately 17% of the Company’s ordinary shares of 113/7 US cents each at 16 May 2011 as nominee. The total number of ADRs outstanding at 16 May 2011 was 886,242,945. At this date 1,369 holders of record of ordinary shares had registered addresses in the US and in total held approximately 0.007% of the ordinary shares of the Company. At 16 May 2011 the following percentage interests in the ordinary share capital of the Company, disclosable under the Disclosure and Transparency Rules, (DTR 5), have been notified to the directors:

Black Rock, Inc. 6.00%
Legal & General Group Plc 3.59%

The rights attaching to the ordinary shares of the Company held by these shareholders are identical in all respects to the rights attaching to all the ordinary shares of the Company. The directors are not aware, at 16 May 2011, of any other interest of 3% or more in the ordinary share capital of the Company. The Company is not directly or indirectly owned or controlled by any foreign government or any other legal entity. There are no arrangements known to the Company that could result in a change of control of the Company.

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Articles of association and applicable English law

The following description summarises certain provisions of the Company’s articles of association and applicable English law. This summary is qualified in its entirety by reference to the Companies Act 2006 of England and Wales and the Company’s articles of association. Information on where shareholders can obtain copies of the articles of association is provided under “Documents on display”.

The Company is a public limited company under the laws of England and Wales. The Company is registered in England and Wales under the name Vodafone Group Public Limited Company with the registration number 1833679.

All of the Company’s ordinary shares are fully paid. Accordingly, no further contribution of capital may be required by the Company from the holders of such shares.

English law specifies that any alteration to the articles of association must be approved by a special resolution of the shareholders.

Articles of association

Pursuant to the Companies Act 2006, the object clauses and other provisions which are contained in a company’s memorandum of association are deemed to be contained in the company’s articles of association unless they are removed by a special resolution of the company. If removed, the company’s objects are unrestricted.

By a special resolution passed at the 2010 AGM the Company removed its object clause together with all other provisions of its memorandum of association which, by virtue of the Companies Act 2006, are treated as forming part of the Company’s articles of association.


The Company’s articles of association provide for a Board of directors, consisting of not fewer than three directors, who shall manage the business and affairs of the Company.

The directors are empowered to exercise all the powers of the Company subject to any restrictions in the articles of association, the Companies Act (as defined in the articles of association) and any special resolution.

Under the Company’s articles of association a director cannot vote in respect of any proposal in which the director, or any person connected with the director, has a material interest other than by virtue of the director’s interest in the Company’s shares or other securities. However, this restriction on voting does not apply to resolutions i) giving the director or a third party any guarantee, security or indemnity in respect of obligations or liabilities incurred at the request of or for the benefit of the Company, ii) giving any guarantee, security or indemnity to the director or a third party in respect of obligations of the Company for which the director has assumed responsibility under an indemnity or guarantee, iii) relating to an offer of securities of the Company in which the director is entitled to participate as a holder of shares or other securities or in the underwriting of such shares or securities, iv) concerning any other company in which the director (together with any connected person) is a shareholder or an officer or is otherwise interested, provided that the director (together with any connected person) is not interested in 1% or more of any class of the Company’s equity share capital or the voting rights available to its shareholders, v) relating to the arrangement of any employee benefit in which the director will share equally with other employees and vi) relating to any insurance that the Company purchases or renews for its directors or any group of people including directors.

The directors are empowered to exercise all the powers of the Company to borrow money, subject to the limitation that the aggregate amount of all liabilities and obligations of the Group outstanding at any time shall not exceed an amount equal to 1.5 times the aggregate of the Group’s share capital and reserves calculated in the manner prescribed in the articles of association unless sanctioned by an ordinary resolution of the Company’s shareholders.

The Company can make market purchases of its own shares or agree to do so in the future provided it is duly authorised by its members in a general meeting and subject to and in accordance with Section 701 of the Companies Act 2006.

At each AGM all directors who were elected or last re-elected at or before the AGM held in the third calendar year before the current year shall automatically retire. In 2005 the Company reviewed its policy regarding the retirement and re-election of directors and, although it is not intended to amend the Company’s articles of association in this regard, the Board has decided in the interests of good corporate governance that all of the directors wishing to continue in office should offer themselves for re-election annually.

Directors are not required under the Company’s articles of association to hold any shares of the Company as a qualification to act as a director, although executive directors participating in long-term incentive plans must comply with the Company’s share ownership guidelines. In accordance with best practice in the UK for corporate governance, compensation awarded to executive directors is decided by a remuneration committee consisting exclusively of non-executive directors.

In addition, as required by The Directors’ Remuneration Report Regulations, the Board has, since 2003, prepared a report to shareholders on the directors’ remuneration which complies with the regulations (see "Directors' remuneration"). The report is also subject to a shareholder vote.

Rights attaching to the Company’s shares

At 31 March 2011 the issued share capital of the Company was comprised of 50,000 7% cumulative fixed rate shares of £1.00 each and 51,577,525,830 ordinary shares (excluding treasury shares) of 113/7 US cents each.

Dividend rights

Holders of 7% cumulative fixed rate shares are entitled to be paid in respect of each financial year, or other accounting period of the Company, a fixed cumulative preferential dividend of 7% per annum on the nominal value of the fixed rate shares. A fixed cumulative preferential dividend may only be paid out of available distributable profits which the directors have resolved should be distributed. The fixed rate shares do not have any other right to share in the Company’s profits.

Holders of the Company’s ordinary shares may, by ordinary resolution, declare dividends but may not declare dividends in excess of the amount recommended by the directors. The Board of directors may also pay interim dividends. No dividend may be paid other than out of profits available for distribution. Dividends on ordinary shares can be paid to shareholders in whatever currency the directors decide, using an appropriate exchange rate for any currency conversions which are required.

If a dividend has not been claimed for one year after the date of the resolution passed at a general meeting declaring that dividend or the resolution of the directors providing for payment of that dividend, the directors may invest the dividend or use it in some other way for the benefit of the Company until the dividend is claimed. If the dividend remains unclaimed for 12 years after the relevant resolution either declaring that dividend or providing for payment of that dividend, it will be forfeited and belong to the Company.

Voting rights

The Company’s articles of association provide that voting on substantive resolutions (i.e. any resolution which is not a procedural resolution) at a general meeting shall be decided on a poll. On a poll, each shareholder who is entitled to vote and is present in person or by proxy has one vote for every share held. Procedural resolutions (such as a resolution to adjourn a general meeting or a resolution on the choice of Chairman of a general meeting) shall be decided on a show of hands, where each shareholder who is present at the meeting has one vote regardless of the number of shares held, unless a poll is demanded. In addition, the articles of association allow persons appointed as proxies of shareholders entitled to vote at general meetings to vote on a show of hands, as well as to vote on a poll and attend and speak at general meetings. The articles of association also allow persons appointed as proxies by two or more shareholders entitled to vote at general meetings to vote for and against a resolution on a show of hands.

Under English law two shareholders present in person constitute a quorum for purposes of a general meeting unless a company’s articles of association specify otherwise. The Company’s articles of association do not specify otherwise, except that the shareholders do not need to be present in person and may instead be present by proxy to constitute a quorum.

Under English law shareholders of a public company such as the Company are not permitted to pass resolutions by written consent.

Record holders of the Company’s ADSs are entitled to attend, speak and vote on a poll or a show of hands at any general meeting of the Company’s shareholders by the depositary’s appointment of them as corporate representatives with respect to the underlying ordinary shares represented by their ADSs. Alternatively holders of ADSs are entitled to vote by supplying their voting instructions to the depositary or its nominee who will vote the ordinary shares underlying their ADSs in accordance with their instructions.

Employees are able to vote any shares held under the Vodafone Group Share Incentive Plan and ‘My ShareBank’ (a vested nominee share account) through the respective plan’s trustees.

Holders of the Company’s 7% cumulative fixed rate shares are only entitled to vote on any resolution to vary or abrogate the rights attached to the fixed rate shares. Holders have one vote for every fully paid 7% cumulative fixed rate share.

Liquidation rights

In the event of the liquidation of the Company, after payment of all liabilities and deductions in accordance with English law, the holders of the Company’s 7% cumulative fixed rate shares would be entitled to a sum equal to the capital paid up on such shares, together with certain dividend payments, in priority to holders of the Company’s ordinary shares. The holders of the fixed rate shares do not have any other right to share in the Company’s surplus assets.

Pre-emptive rights and new issues of shares

Under Section 549 of the Companies Act 2006 directors are, with certain exceptions, unable to allot the Company’s ordinary shares or securities convertible into the Company’s ordinary shares without the authority of the shareholders in a general meeting. In addition, Section 561 of the Companies Act 2006 imposes further restrictions on the issue of equity securities (as defined in the Companies Act 2006 which include the Company’s ordinary shares and securities convertible into ordinary shares) which are, or are to be, paid up wholly in cash and not first offered to existing shareholders. The Company’s articles of association allow shareholders to authorise directors for a period specified in the relevant resolution to allot i) relevant securities generally up to an amount fixed by the shareholders and ii) equity securities for cash other than in connection with a pre-emptive offer up to an amount specified by the shareholders and free of the pre-emption restriction in Section 561. At the AGM in 2010 the amount of relevant securities fixed by shareholders under (i) above and the amount of equity securities specified by shareholders under (ii) above were both in line with corporate governance guidelines. The directors consider it desirable to have the maximum flexibility permitted by corporate governance guidelines to respond to market developments and to enable allotments to take place to finance business opportunities as they arise. In order to retain such maximum flexibility, the directors propose to renew the authorities granted by shareholders in 2010 at this year’s AGM. Further details of such proposals are provided in the 2011 notice of AGM.

Disclosure of interests in the Company’s shares

There are no provisions in the articles of association whereby persons acquiring, holding or disposing of a certain percentage of the Company’s shares are required to make disclosure of their ownership percentage although such requirements exist under rules derived from the Disclosure and Transparency Rules (‘DTRs’).

The basic disclosure requirement upon a person acquiring or disposing of shares that are admitted to trading on a regulated market and carrying voting rights is an obligation to provide written notification to the Company, including certain details as set out in DTR 5, where the percentage of the person’s voting rights which he holds as shareholder or through his direct or indirect holding of financial instruments (falling within DTR 5.3.1R) reaches or exceeds 3% and reaches, exceeds or falls below each 1% threshold thereafter.

Under Section 793 of the Companies Act 2006 the Company may, by notice in writing, require a person that the Company knows or has reasonable cause to believe is, or was during the preceding three years, interested in the Company’s shares to indicate whether or not that is correct and, if that person does or did hold an interest in the Company’s shares, to provide certain information as set out in the Companies Act 2006. DTR 3 deals with the disclosure by persons “discharging managerial responsibility” and their connected persons of the occurrence of all transactions conducted on their account in the shares of the Company. Part 28 of The Companies Act 2006 sets out the statutory functions of the Panel on Takeovers & Mergers (the ‘Panel’). The Panel is responsible for issuing and administering the Code on Takeovers & Mergers which includes disclosure requirements on all parties to a takeover with regard to dealings in the securities of an offeror or offeree company and also on their respective associates during the course of an offer period.

General meetings and notices

Subject to the articles of association, annual general meetings are held at such times and place as determined by the directors of the Company. The directors may also, when they think fit, convene other general meetings of the Company. General meetings may also be convened on requisition as provided by the Companies Act 2006.

An annual general meeting needs to be called by not less than 21 days’ notice in writing. Subject to obtaining shareholder approval on an annual basis, the Company may call other general meetings on 14 days’ notice. The directors may determine that persons entitled to receive notices of meetings are those persons entered on the register at the close of business on a day determined by the directors but not later than twenty-one days before the date the relevant notice is sent. The notice may also specify the record date, the time of which shall be determined in accordance with the articles of association and the Companies Act 2006.

Shareholders must provide the Company with an address or (so far as the Companies Act 2006 allows) an electronic address or fax number in the United Kingdom in order to be entitled to receive notices of shareholders’ meetings and other notices and documents. In certain circumstances the Company may give notices to shareholders by publication on the Company’s website and advertisement in newspapers in the United Kingdom. Holders of the Company’s ADSs are entitled to receive notices under the terms of the deposit agreement relating to the ADSs.

Under Section 336 of the Companies Act 2006 the annual general meeting of shareholders must be held each calendar year and within six months of the Company’s year end.

Electronic communications

The Company has previously passed a resolution allowing it to communicate all shareholder information by electronic means, including making such information available on the Company’s website. Those shareholders who have positively elected for website communication (or are deemed to have consented to receive electronic communication in accordance with the Companies Act 2006) will receive written notification whenever shareholder documentation is made available on the website.

Variation of rights

If at any time the Company’s share capital is divided into different classes of shares, the rights attached to any class may be varied, subject to the provisions of the Companies Act 2006, either with the consent in writing of the holders of three quarters in nominal value of the shares of that class or at a separate meeting of the holders of the shares of that class.

At every such separate meeting all of the provisions of the articles of association relating to proceedings at a general meeting apply, except that i) the quorum is to be the number of persons (which must be at least two) who hold or represent by proxy not less than one third in nominal value of the issued shares of the class or, if such quorum is not present on an adjourned meeting, one person who holds shares of the class regardless of the number of shares he holds, ii) any person present in person or by proxy may demand a poll and iii) each shareholder will have one vote per share held in that particular class in the event a poll is taken. Class rights are deemed not to have been varied by the creation or issue of new shares ranking equally with or subsequent to that class of shares in sharing in profits or assets of the Company or by a redemption or repurchase of the shares by the Company.

Limitations on voting and shareholding

As far as the Company is aware there are no limitations imposed on the transfer, holding or voting of the Company’s ordinary shares other than those limitations that would generally apply to all of the shareholders. No shareholder has any securities carrying special rights with regard to control of the Company.

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Documents on display

The Company is subject to the information requirements of the Exchange Act applicable to foreign private issuers. In accordance with these requirements the Company files its annual report on Form 20-F and other related documents with the SEC. These documents may be inspected at the SEC’s public reference rooms located at 100 F Street, NE Washington, DC 20549. Information on the operation of the public reference room can be obtained in the US by calling the SEC on +1-800-SEC-0330. In addition, some of the Company’s SEC filings, including all those filed on or after 4 November 2002, are available on the SEC’s website ( Shareholders can also obtain copies of the Company’s articles of association from our website at or from the Company’s registered office.

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Material contracts

At the date of this annual report the Group is not party to any contracts that are considered material to the Group’s results or operations except for its US$4.2 billion and €4.2 billion credit facilities which are discussed under “Financial position and resources”.

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Exchange controls

There are no UK government laws, decrees or regulations that restrict or affect the export or import of capital, including but not limited to, foreign exchange controls on remittance of dividends on the ordinary shares or on the conduct of the Group’s operations.

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As this is a complex area investors should consult their own tax advisor regarding the US federal, state and local, the UK and other tax consequences of owning and disposing of shares and ADSs in their particular circumstances.

This section describes, primarily for a US holder (as defined below), in general terms, the principal US federal income tax and UK tax consequences of owning or disposing of shares or ADSs in the Company held as capital assets (for US and UK tax purposes). This section does not, however, cover the tax consequences for members of certain classes of holders subject to special rules including officers of the Company, employees and holders that, directly or indirectly, hold 10% or more of the Company’s voting stock.

A US holder is a beneficial owner of shares or ADSs that is for US federal income tax purposes:

  • a citizen or resident of the US;
  • a US domestic corporation;
  • an estate, the income of which is subject to US federal income tax regardless of its source; or
  • a trust, if a US court can exercise primary supervision over the trust’s administration and one or more US persons are authorised to control all substantial decisions of the trust.

If a partnership holds the shares or ADSs, the US federal income tax treatment of a partner will generally depend on the status of the partner and the tax treatment of the partnership. A partner in a partnership holding the shares or ADSs should consult its tax advisor with regard to the US federal income tax treatment of an investment in the shares or ADSs.

This section is based on the US Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, its legislative history, existing and proposed regulations thereunder, published rulings and court decisions, and on the tax laws of the United Kingdom and the Double Taxation Convention between the United States and the United Kingdom (the ‘treaty’), all as currently in effect. These laws are subject to change, possibly on a retroactive basis.

This section is further based in part upon the representations of the depositary and assumes that each obligation in the deposit agreement and any related agreement will be performed in accordance with its terms.

Based on this assumption, for purposes of the treaty and the US-UK double taxation convention relating to estate and gift taxes (the ‘Estate Tax Convention’), and for US federal income tax and UK tax purposes, a holder of ADRs evidencing ADSs will be treated as the owner of the shares in the Company represented by those ADSs. Generally exchanges of shares for ADRs and ADRs for shares will not be subject to US federal income tax or to UK tax other than stamp duty or stamp duty reserve tax (see the section on these taxes below).

Taxation of dividends

UK taxation

Under current UK tax law no withholding tax will be deducted from the dividends we pay. Shareholders who are within the charge to UK corporation tax will be subject to corporation tax on the dividends we pay unless the dividends fall within an exempt class and certain other conditions are met. It is expected that the dividends we pay would generally be exempt.

A shareholder in the Company who is an individual resident for UK tax purposes in the United Kingdom is entitled, in calculating their liability to UK income tax, to a tax credit on cash dividends we pay on our shares or ADSs and the tax credit is equal to one-ninth of the cash dividend.

US federal income taxation

Subject to the PFIC rules described below, a US holder is subject to US federal income taxation on the gross amount of any dividend we pay out of our current or accumulated earnings and profits (as determined for US federal income tax purposes). Dividends paid to a non-corporate US holder in tax years beginning before 1 January 2013 that constitute qualified dividend income will be taxable to the holder at a maximum tax rate of 15% provided that the ordinary shares or ADSs are held for more than 60 days during the 121 day period beginning 60 days before the ex-dividend date and the holder meets other holding period requirements. Dividends paid by us with respect to the shares or ADSs will generally be qualified dividend income. A US holder is not subject to a UK withholding tax. The US holder includes in gross income for US federal income tax purposes only the amount of the dividend actually received from us and the receipt of a dividend does not entitle the US holder to a foreign tax credit.

Dividends must be included in income when the US holder, in the case of shares, or the depositary, in the case of ADSs, actually or constructively receives the dividend and will not be eligible for the dividends-received deduction generally allowed to US corporations in respect of dividends received from other US corporations. Dividends will be income from sources outside the United States. For the purpose of the foreign tax credit limitation, foreign source income is classified in one or two baskets and the credit for foreign taxes on income in any basket is limited to US federal income tax allocable to that income. Generally the dividends we pay will constitute foreign source income in the passive income basket.

In the case of shares, the amount of the dividend distribution to be included in income will be the US dollar value of the pound sterling payments made determined at the spot pound sterling/US dollar rate on the date of the dividend distribution regardless of whether the payment is in fact converted into US dollars. Generally any gain or loss resulting from currency exchange fluctuations during the period from the date the dividend payment is to be included in income to the date the payment is converted into US dollars will be treated as ordinary income or loss. Generally the gain or loss will be income or loss from sources within the United States for foreign tax credit limitation purposes.

Taxation of capital gains

UK taxation

A US holder may be liable for both UK and US tax in respect of a gain on the disposal of our shares or ADSs if the US holder is:

  • a citizen of the United States resident or ordinarily resident for UK tax purposes in the United Kingdom;
  • a citizen of the United States who has been resident or ordinarily resident for UK tax purposes in the United Kingdom, ceased to be so resident or ordinarily resident for a period of less than five years of assessment and who disposed of the shares or ADSs during that period (a ‘temporary non-resident’), unless the shares or ADSs were also acquired during that period, such liability arising on that individual’s return to the UK;
  • a US domestic corporation resident in the United Kingdom by reason of being centrally managed and controlled in the United Kingdom; or
  • a citizen of the United States or a US domestic corporation that carries on a trade, profession or vocation in the United Kingdom through a branch or agency or, in the case of US domestic companies, through a permanent establishment and that has used the shares or ADSs for the purposes of such trade, profession or vocation or has used, held or acquired the shares or ADSs for the purposes of such branch or agency or permanent establishment.

Under the treaty capital gains on dispositions of the shares or ADSs are generally subject to tax only in the country of residence of the relevant holder as determined under both the laws of the United Kingdom and the United States and as required by the terms of the treaty. However, individuals who are residents of either the United Kingdom or the United States and who have been residents of the other jurisdiction (the US or the UK, as the case may be) at any time during the six years immediately preceding the relevant disposal of shares or ADSs may be subject to tax with respect to capital gains arising from the dispositions of the shares or ADSs not only in the country of which the holder is resident at the time of the disposition but also in that other country (although, in respect of UK taxation, generally only to the extent that such an individual comprises a temporary non-resident).

US federal income taxation

Subject to the PFIC rules described below a US holder that sells or otherwise disposes of our shares or ADSs will recognise a capital gain or loss for US federal income tax purposes equal to the difference between the US dollar value of the amount realised and the holder’s tax basis, determined in US dollars, in the shares or ADSs. Generally a capital gain of a non-corporate US holder that is recognised in tax years beginning before 1 January 2013 is taxed at a maximum rate of 15% provided the holder has a holding period of more than one year. The gain or loss will generally be income or loss from sources within the United States for foreign tax credit limitation purposes. The deductibility of losses is subject to limitations.

Additional tax considerations

UK inheritance tax

An individual who is domiciled in the United States (for the purposes of the Estate Tax Convention) and is not a UK national will not be subject to UK inheritance tax in respect of our shares or ADSs on the individual’s death or on a transfer of the shares or ADSs during the individual’s lifetime, provided that any applicable US federal gift or estate tax is paid, unless the shares or ADSs are part of the business property of a UK permanent establishment or pertain to a UK fixed base used for the performance of independent personal services. Where the shares or ADSs have been placed in trust by a settlor they may be subject to UK inheritance tax unless, when the trust was created, the settlor was domiciled in the United States and was not a UK national. Where the shares or ADSs are subject to both UK inheritance tax and to US federal gift or estate tax, the estate tax convention generally provides a credit against US federal tax liabilities for UK inheritance tax paid.

UK stamp duty and stamp duty reserve tax

Stamp duty will, subject to certain exceptions, be payable on any instrument transferring our shares to the custodian of the depositary at the rate of 1.5% on the amount or value of the consideration if on sale or on the value of such shares if not on sale. Stamp duty reserve tax (‘SDRT’), at the rate of 1.5% of the price or value of the shares, could also be payable in these circumstances and on issue to such a person but no SDRT will be payable if stamp duty equal to such SDRT liability is paid. A recent ruling by the European Court of Justice has determined that the 1.5% SDRT charge on issue to a clearance service is contrary to EU law. HMRC have indicated that where new shares are first issued to a clearance service or to a depositary within the European Union, the 1.5% SDRT charge will not be levied. However, to the extent that the clearance service or depositary is located outside the European Union, HMRC have indicated that such charge would still apply. In accordance with the terms of the deposit agreement, any tax or duty payable on deposits of shares by the depositary or the custodian of the depositary will be charged to the party to whom ADSs are delivered against such deposits.

No stamp duty will be payable on any transfer of our ADSs provided that the ADSs and any separate instrument of transfer are executed and retained at all times outside the United Kingdom. A transfer of our shares in registered form will attract ad valorem stamp duty generally at the rate of 0.5% of the purchase price of the shares. There is no charge to ad valorem stamp duty on gifts.

SDRT is generally payable on an unconditional agreement to transfer our shares in registered form at 0.5% of the amount or value of the consideration for the transfer, but is repayable if, within six years of the date of the agreement, an instrument transferring the shares is executed or, if the SDRT has not been paid, the liability to pay the tax (but not necessarily interest and penalties) would be cancelled. However, an agreement to transfer our ADSs will not give rise to SDRT.

PFIC rules

We do not believe that our shares or ADSs will be treated as stock of a passive foreign investment company (‘PFIC’) for US federal income tax purposes. This conclusion is a factual determination that is made annually and thus is subject to change. If we are treated as a PFIC, any gain realised on the sale or other disposition of the shares or ADSs would in general not be treated as capital gain unless a US holder elects to be taxed annually on a mark-to-market basis with respect to the shares or ADSs. Otherwise a US holder would be treated as if he or she has realised such gain and certain “excess distributions” rateably over the holding period for the shares or ADSs and would be taxed at the highest tax rate in effect for each such year to which the gain was allocated. An interest charge in respect of the tax attributable to each such year would also apply. Dividends received from us would not be eligible for the preferential tax rate applicable to qualified dividend income for certain non-corporate holders.

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