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Why do companies put out lists of names and numbers to contact for “further details” if they have no intention of actually returning calls?

It felt rather like that was Provident Financial’s intent today.

Its rights issue results statement listed 14 people to contact (and annoying switchboard numbers, not direct lines), none of whom rang me back.

I left messages here and there, from Provident Financial getting this message: “The person you are trying to contact cannot take your call, please try again later.”

This was a newsy rights issue. Not least because the bankers too busy to speak to me were sharing whopping fees of £31 million for their work (what work?)

The statement said that 96% of the shares were placed. I, and others here, assumed that meant 4% of the stock was left with the bankers, Barclays and JP Morgan.

Brunswick, not even listed as a contact, eventually intervened to explain: It’s an administrative issue, not a failure to place the stock (I’ll spare you the details). The shares will be placed soon enough.

Fair enough. But an erroneous story that would have looked bad on everyone was close to appearing in the paper.

I don’t think I’d have returned the calls of complaint. That would be fair, right?

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