The Phone Co-op AGM 2009

Yesterday I phoned into The Phone Co-op AGM 2009 and heard the reports, most of which you can read in the PDF annual report from the AGM website. There were also various questions from members, which I scribbled down as follows:-

What does ADSL mean?
Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line. Essentially, what we sell as broadband.
How many day-equivalents of training did part-time employees get on average? (I think this was the question, but I got a bit lost.)
Information not immediately available. ThePhoneCoop will research and reply later. The number of part-time employees is an asterisk footnote in the non-financial performance indicators.
Where are the Phone Co-op’s investments?
Most of the share capital is for investment in TPC, but surpluses arise for various reasons and are invested outside. Current locations include 40k in long-term investments, including 10k in the Co-operative Group, 20k in Westmill wind farm, 5k in a hydro power project; 60k is in the ICOF share account, 1.4m in the Co-operative Group, […I missed some. I was struggling to keep up. Some of this may be wrong anyway…] 486k in Midcounties Cooperative share account, 20k in Chelmsford Star; total of about 2.9m.
Is ICOF deciding recipients of the sustainability fund or The Phone Co-op?
The arrangement with ICOF is now ending for various reasons and now TPC will partner with Black Country Reinvestment Society. Don’t want to manage the fund directly because it’s not a core task for a phone company.
The increase in turnover is described as mainly to existing customers. Has there been an increase in the number of customers?
The Phone Co-op is recruiting 150-200pcm residential and 30 business customers, but losing a similar number. Have recruited new staff to try to improve this.
Is share account interest being cut in line with banking interest?
Just cut to 3%, but there has been a net inflow of investment. Current interest receipts from TPC cover it due to long-term investments, but they will mature, so the interest rate will be cut gradually to keep it sustainable.
Purchase from other cooperatives is 11% and falling. What is being done to increase it?
[I missed the answer to this.]
What is happening about getting a new office?
The Phone Co-op still has an option on a site in Chipping Norton, but no planning permission. An alternative commercial building which was being discussed with its owner was lost to housing (planning permission granted there!). There is a general lack of suitable sites available and things are happening cautiously in the current climate.
If we’re trying to save paper, why did members receive two envelopes in the post for this AGM?
The report was sent from Calverts directly, to save time, postage, staff and “report miles”
Is the description of “non-white” in the performance indicators a problem for mixed white+non-white people?
Will look into this.
How many affinity schemes are there?
There are currently 300 and they are being reviewed for the best way to work better with them.
Are acquisitions likely?
Expect the credit crisis to being opportunities. There are benefits from more traffic and so on. TPC has been contacting potential suppliers and intermediaries asking after other providers in difficulties.
What is the deferred income shown in the financial statements?
Pre-billed broadband and similar products.
Is the investment in the Co-operative Group risky?
TCG holds around 4bn in assets under and is one of the longest continuously-traded companies in the UK.
Are ThePhoneCo-op’s 0845 numbers advantageous to TPC or the caller?
Still yes for TPC, paying 1p/min at peak; probably not advantageous to caller these days.
There are 15% sales to cooperatives shown. What’s the largest cooperative and what % of that is it?
Shown in the annual report. [The numbers in report work out to about 15% of all sales I think. So, nearly all sales to cooperatives are sales to Midcounties?]

All errors and omissions in the above are mine.

I heard the allocation approved, then I had to leave before the special meeting and the presentations. If anyone has links to them or coverage, please leave me a comment. Other comments welcome, too.

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