DESCRIPTION OF THE REGISTRANT'S SECURITIES REGISTERED PURSUANT TO SECTION 12 OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
The following is a description of the ordinary shares, par value £0.001 per share, of Adaptimmune Therapeutics plc (the “Company”, “we” or “us”) which are represented by American Depositary Shares (“ADSs”) with each ADS representing six of our ordinary shares registered under Section 12 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”). This description also summarizes certain relevant provisions of English law. The following summary does not purport to be complete and is subject to, and is qualified in its entirety by reference to, the applicable provisions of English law and the Company’s articles of association, a copy of which is filed as Exhibit 3.1 to the Annual Report on Form 10-K of the Company for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020. We encourage you to read the articles of association and the applicable provisions of English law for additional information.
For the purposes of this description of the ordinary shares, a “shareholder” or “holder of ordinary shares” is a person or persons in whose name an ordinary share is registered on the register of members. Ordinary shares underlying the ADSs are held by Citibank, N.A. as depositary bank and, accordingly, Citibank, N.A. will be the shareholder in relation to such ordinary shares.
DESCRIPTION OF ORDINARY SHARES
As of February 24, 2021 the number of outstanding ordinary shares, par value £0.001 per share, of the Registrant is 930,827,670. There are currently no preferred shares outstanding. All ordinary shares have the same rights and rank pari passu in all respects.
Subject to any other provisions of our articles of association and without prejudice to any special rights, privileges or restrictions as to voting attached to any shares forming part of our share capital, the voting rights of shareholders are as follows. On a show of hands, each shareholder present in person, and each duly authorized representative present in person of a shareholder that is a corporation, has one vote. On a show of hands, each proxy present in person who has been duly appointed by one or more shareholders entitled to vote on a resolution has one vote, but a proxy has one vote for and one vote against a resolution if, in certain circumstances, the proxy is instructed by more than one shareholder to vote in different ways on a resolution. On a poll, each shareholder present in person or by proxy or (being a corporation) by a duly authorized representative has one vote for each share held by the shareholder. We are prohibited (to the extent specified by the Companies Act 2006) from exercising any rights to attend or vote at meetings in respect of any shares held by the Company as treasury shares.
Under English law, an ordinary resolution is passed on a show of hands if it is approved by a simple majority (more than 50%) of the votes cast by shareholders present (in person or by proxy) and entitled to vote. If a poll is demanded, an ordinary resolution is passed if it is approved by holders representing a simple majority of the total voting rights of shareholders present (in person or by proxy) who (being entitled to vote) vote on the resolution. Special resolutions require the affirmative vote of not less than 75% of the votes cast by shareholders present (in person or by proxy) at the meeting.
Restrictions on Voting Where Sums Overdue on Shares
None of our shareholders (whether present in person by proxy or, in the case of a corporate member, by a duly authorized representative) shall (unless the directors otherwise determine) be entitled to vote at any general meeting or at any separate class meeting in respect of any share held by him unless all calls or other sums payable by him in respect of that share have been paid.
Calls on Shares
Subject to the terms of issue of the shares and to the provisions of our articles of association, the directors may from time to time make calls on shareholders in respect of any moneys unpaid on their shares, whether in respect of the nominal value of the shares or by way of premium. Shareholders are required to pay called amounts on shares subject to receiving at least 14 clear days’ notice specifying the time and place for payment. If a shareholder fails to pay any part of a call or instalment of a call on the day fixed for payment, the directors may serve further notice naming another day not being less than 14 clear days from the date of the further notice requiring payment and stating that in the event of non-payment the shares in respect of which the call was made or instalment is payable will be liable to be forfeited. Subsequent forfeiture requires a resolution by the directors.
Subject to the Companies Act 2006 and the provisions of all other relevant legislation, we may by ordinary resolution declare dividends out of our profits available for distribution in accordance with the respective rights of shareholders but no such dividend shall exceed the amount recommended by the directors. If, in the opinion of the directors, our profits available for distribution justify such payments, the directors may pay fixed dividends payable on any of our shares with preferential rights, half-yearly or otherwise, on fixed dates and from time to time pay interim dividends to the holders of any class of shares. Subject to any special rights attaching to or terms of issue of any shares, all dividends shall be declared and paid according to the amounts paid up on the shares on which the dividend is paid. No dividend shall be payable to us in respect of any shares held by us as treasury shares (except to the extent permitted by the Companies Act 2006 and any other relevant legislation).
We may, upon the recommendation of the directors, by ordinary resolution, direct payment of a dividend wholly or partly by the distribution of specific assets.
The directors may, if so authorized by ordinary resolution passed at any general meeting, offer any holders of the ordinary shares the right to elect to receive in lieu of that dividend (or part of any of that dividend) an allotment of ordinary shares credited as fully paid.
We or the directors may by resolution specify a “record date” on which persons registered as the holders of shares shall be entitled to receipt of any dividend.
Distributions of Assets on Winding-up
Subject to any special rights attaching to or the terms of issue of any shares, on any winding-up of the Company our surplus assets remaining after satisfaction of our liabilities will be distributed among our shareholders in proportion to their respective holdings of shares and the amounts paid up on those shares.
On any winding-up of the Company (whether the liquidation is voluntary, under supervision or by the Court), the liquidator may with the authority of a special resolution of the Company and any other sanction required by any relevant legislation, divide among our shareholders (excluding the Company itself to the extent that it is a shareholder by virtue of its holding any shares or treasury shares) in specie or in kind the whole or any part of our assets, whether or not the assets shall consist of property of one kind or of properties of different kinds, and may for that purpose set such value as he deems fair upon any one or more class or classes of property and may determine how that division shall be carried out as between the shareholders or different classes of shareholders. The liquidator may, with that sanction, vest the whole or any part of the assets in trustees upon such trusts for the benefit of the shareholders as he with the relevant authority determines, and the liquidation of the Company may be closed and the Company dissolved, but so that no shareholders shall be compelled to accept any shares or other property in respect of which there is a liability.
Variation of Rights
The rights or privileges attached to any class of shares may (unless otherwise provided by the terms of the issue of the shares of that class) be varied or abrogated with the consent in writing of the holders of three-fourths in nominal value of the issued shares of that class (excluding any shares of that class held as treasury shares) or with the sanction of a special resolution passed at a separate general meeting of the shareholders of that class, but not otherwise.
Transfer of Shares
All of our shares are in registered form and may be transferred by a transfer in any usual or common form or any form acceptable to the directors and permitted by the Companies Act 2006 and any other relevant legislation.
The directors may decline to register a transfer of a share that is:
|●||not fully paid or on which we have a lien provided that that discretion may not be exercised in such a way as to prevent dealings in shares of that class from taking place on an open and proper basis;|
|●||(except where uncertificated shares are transferred without a written instrument) not lodged duly stamped at our registered office or at such other place as the directors may appoint;|
|●||(except where a certificate has not been issued) not accompanied by the certificate of the share to which it relates or such other evidence reasonably required by the directors to show the right of the transferor to make the transfer;|
|●||in respect of more than one class of share; or|
|●||in the case of a transfer to joint holders of a share, the number of joint holders to whom the share is to be transferred exceeds four.|
We may, by ordinary resolution, consolidate and divide all or any of our share capital into shares of a larger nominal amount than our existing shares or sub-divide our shares, or any of them, into shares of a smaller amount than our existing shares. Subject to the provisions of the Companies Act 2006 and any other relevant legislation, we may by special resolution reduce our share capital, any capital redemption reserve fund or any share premium account and may redeem or purchase any of our own shares.
There are no rights of pre-emption under our articles of association in respect of transfers of issued ordinary shares. In certain circumstances, our shareholders may have statutory pre-emption rights under the Companies Act 2006 in respect of the allotment of new shares in the Company for cash. These statutory pre-emption rights, when applicable, would require us to offer new shares for allotment to existing shareholders on a pro rata basis before allotting them to other persons. In such circumstances, the procedure for the exercise of such statutory pre-emption rights would be set out in the documentation by which such ordinary shares would be offered to our shareholders. These statutory pre-emption rights may be disapplied by a special resolution passed by shareholders in a general meeting in accordance with the provisions of the Companies Act 2006.
Subject to the provisions of the Companies Act 2006 and any other relevant legislation, we may issue shares with such preferred, deferred or other rights, or such restrictions, whether in relation to dividends, returns of capital, voting or otherwise, as we may determine by ordinary resolution (or, failing any such determination, as the directors may determine). Any or all of such rights and restrictions may be greater than the rights of the ordinary shares. Holders of preferred shares may be entitled to receive a preference payment in the event of our liquidation before any payment is made to the holders of ordinary shares. There are currently no preferred shares outstanding, and we have no present intention to issue any preferred shares.
Unless and until we in a general meeting of our shareholders otherwise determine, the number of directors shall not be subject to any maximum but shall not be less than two.
Annual General Meetings
We shall in each year hold an annual general meeting of our shareholders in addition to any other meetings in that year, and shall specify the meeting as such in the notice convening it. The annual general meeting shall be held at such time and place as the directors may appoint.
Calling of General Meetings
The directors may call a general meeting of shareholders. Under the Companies Act 2006, shareholders holding at least 5% of the paid-up capital of the Company carrying voting rights at general meetings can require the directors to call a general meeting.
Under the Companies Act 2006, 21 clear days’ notice must be given for an annual general meeting and any resolutions to be proposed at the meeting. At least 14 clear days’ notice is required for any other general meeting. In addition, certain matters (such as the removal of directors or auditors) require special notice, which is 28 clear days’ notice.
Quorum of Meetings
No business shall be transacted at any general meeting unless a quorum is present when the meeting proceeds to business but the absence of a quorum shall not preclude the appointment of a chairman that shall not be treated as part of the business of a meeting. One or more qualifying persons present at a meeting and between them holding (or being the proxy or corporate representative of the
holders of) at least one-third in number of the issued shares (excluding any shares held as treasury shares) entitled to vote on the business to be transacted are a quorum. Notwithstanding that our articles of association provide that one person may be a quorum, under English law a general meeting will generally require the attendance of more than one person. A qualifying person for these purposes is an individual who is a shareholder, a person authorized to act as the representative of a shareholder (being a corporation) in relation to the meeting or a person appointed as proxy of a shareholder in relation to the meeting.
Other English Law Considerations
Mandatory Purchases and Acquisitions
Pursuant to sections 979 to 991 of the Companies Act 2006, where a takeover offer has been made for the Company and the offeror has acquired or unconditionally contracted to acquire not less than 90 percent of the voting rights carried by those shares, the offeror may give notice, to the holder of any shares to which the offer relates and which the offeror has not acquired or unconditionally contracted to acquire that he wishes to acquire and is entitled to so acquire those shares on the same terms as the general offer.
Disclosure of Interest in Shares
Pursuant to Part 22 of the Companies Act 2006 and our articles of association, we are empowered by notice in writing to require any person whom we know to be, or have reasonable cause to believe to be, interested in the Company, our shares or, at any time during the three years immediately preceding the date on which the notice is issued has been so interested, within a reasonable time to disclose to us particulars of any interest, rights, agreements or arrangements affecting any of the shares held by that person or in which such other person as aforesaid is interested (so far as is within his knowledge).
Under our articles of association, if a person defaults in supplying us with the required particulars in relation to the shares in question (“default shares”), the directors may by notice direct that:
in respect of the default shares, the relevant shareholder shall not be entitled to vote or exercise any other right conferred by membership in relation to general meetings; and/or
where the default shares represent at least 0.25 percent of their class, (a) any dividend or other money payable in respect of the default shares shall be retained by us without liability to pay interest, and/or (b) no transfers by the relevant shareholder of shares other than certain approved transfers may be registered (unless the shareholder himself is not in default and the transfer does not relate to default shares), and/or (c) any shares held by the relevant number in uncertificated form shall be converted into certificated form.
Purchase of Own Shares
Under English law, a public limited company may only purchase its own shares out of the distributable profits of the company or the proceeds of a fresh issue of shares made for the purpose of financing the purchase. A limited company may not purchase its own shares if as a result of the purchase there would no longer be any issued shares of the company other than redeemable shares or shares held as treasury shares.
Subject to the above, we may purchase our own shares in the manner prescribed below. We may purchase on a recognized investment exchange our own fully paid shares pursuant to an ordinary resolution of the Company. Under the Companies Act 2006, the resolution authorizing the purchase must:
|●||specify the maximum number of shares authorized to be acquired;|
|●||determine the maximum and minimum prices that may be paid for the shares; and|
|●||specify a date, not being later than five years after the passing of the resolution, on which the authority to purchase is to expire.|
We may purchase our own fully paid shares otherwise than on a recognized investment exchange pursuant to a purchase contract authorized by special resolution of the Company before the purchase takes place. Any authority will not be effective if any shareholder from whom we propose to purchase shares votes on the resolution and the resolution would not have been passed if he had not done so. The resolution authorizing the purchase must specify a date, not being later than five years after the passing of the resolution, on which the authority to purchase is to expire.
If at the time of a takeover offer the U.K. Panel on Takeovers and Mergers (the “Takeover Panel”) determines that we have our place of central management and control in the United Kingdom, we would be subject to the U.K. City Code on Takeovers and Mergers (the “Takeover Code”), which is issued and administered by the Takeover Panel. The Takeover Code provides a framework within which takeovers of companies subject to it are conducted, including, in particular, certain rules in respect of mandatory offers.
In July 2018, the Takeover Panel confirmed that, based on our current circumstances, we are not subject to the Takeover Code. As a result, our shareholders are not entitled to the benefit of certain takeover offer protections provided under the Takeover Code. We believe that this position is unlikely to change at any time in the near future but, in accordance with good practice, we will review the situation on a regular basis and consult with the Takeover Panel if there is any change in our circumstances, which may have a bearing on whether the Takeover Panel would determine our place of central management and control to be in the United Kingdom.
There are no governmental laws, decrees, regulations or other legislation in the United Kingdom that may affect the import or export of capital, including the availability of cash and cash equivalents for use by us, or that may affect the remittance of dividends, interest, or other payments by us to non-resident holders of our ordinary shares, other than withholding tax requirements. There is no limitation imposed by English law or our articles of association on the right of non-residents to hold or vote shares.
Our ADSs are listed on The Nasdaq Global Select Market under the symbol “ADAP”.
DESCRIPTION OF AMERICAN DEPOSITARY SHARES
Citibank, N.A. (the “Depositary”) has agreed to act as the depositary bank for the American Depositary Shares. Citibank’s depositary offices are located at 388 Greenwich Street, New York, New York 10013. American Depositary Shares are frequently referred to as “ADSs” and represent ownership interests in securities that are on deposit with the depositary bank. ADSs may be represented by certificates that are commonly known as “American Depositary Receipts” or “ADRs.” The depositary bank typically appoints a custodian to safekeep the securities on deposit. In this case, the custodian is Citibank, N.A. London Branch, having its principal office at Citigroup Centre, Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5LB, England.
We have appointed Citibank as depositary bank pursuant to a deposit agreement. A copy of the deposit agreement is on file with the SEC under cover of a Registration Statement on Form F-6. A copy of the deposit agreement is available from the SEC’s website (www.sec.gov). Please refer to Registration Number 333-203642, Registration Number 333-212714 or Registration Number 333-233560 when retrieving such copy.
“Holder” means the person or persons in whose name an ADS is registered on the register maintained by the Depositary for such purpose.
Each ADS represents the right to receive 12 ordinary shares, each of which is frequently referred to as a “Share” or collectively, as “Shares”, on deposit with the custodian. An ADS also represents the right to receive any other property received by the depositary bank or the custodian on behalf of the owner of the ADS but that has not been distributed to the owners of ADSs because of legal restrictions or practical considerations. The custodian, the depositary bank and their respective nominees will hold all deposited property for the benefit of the holders and beneficial owners of ADSs. The deposited property does not constitute the proprietary assets of the depositary bank, the custodian or their nominees. Beneficial ownership in the deposited property will under the terms of the deposit agreement be vested in the beneficial owners of the ADSs. The depositary bank, the custodian and their respective nominees will be the record holders of the deposited property represented by the ADSs for the benefit of the holders and beneficial owners of the corresponding ADSs. Owners of ADSs will be able to exercise beneficial ownership interests in the deposited property only through the registered holders of the ADSs, by the registered holders of the ADSs (on behalf of the applicable ADS owners) only through the depositary bank, and by the depositary bank (on behalf of the owners of the corresponding ADSs) directly, or indirectly through the custodian or their respective nominees, in each case upon the terms of the deposit agreement.
If you become an owner of ADSs, you will become a party to the deposit agreement and therefore will be bound to its terms and to the terms of any ADR that represents your ADSs. The deposit agreement and the ADR specify our rights and obligations as well as your rights and obligations as owner of ADSs and those of the depositary bank. As an ADS holder, you appoint the depositary bank to act on your behalf in certain circumstances. The deposit agreement and the ADRs are governed by New York law. However, our obligations to the holders of Shares will continue to be governed by the laws of England and Wales, which may be different from the laws in the United States.
In addition, applicable laws and regulations may require you to satisfy reporting requirements and obtain regulatory approvals in certain circumstances. You are solely responsible for complying with such reporting requirements and obtaining such approvals. Neither the depositary bank, the custodian, us nor any of their or our respective agents or affiliates shall be required to take any actions whatsoever on your behalf to satisfy such reporting requirements or obtain such regulatory approvals under applicable laws and regulations.
As an owner of ADSs, we will not treat you as one of our shareholders and you will not have direct shareholder rights. The depositary bank will hold on your behalf the shareholder rights attached to the Shares underlying your ADSs. As an owner of ADSs you will be able to exercise the shareholders rights for the Shares represented by your ADSs through the depositary bank only to the extent contemplated in the deposit agreement. To exercise any shareholder rights not contemplated in the deposit agreement you will, as an ADS owner, need to arrange for the cancellation of your ADSs and become a direct shareholder.
Dividends and Distributions
Holders generally have the right to receive the distributions we make on the securities deposited with the custodian. A Holder’s receipt of these distributions may be limited, however, by practical considerations and legal limitations. Holders will receive such distributions under the terms of the deposit agreement in proportion to the number of ADSs held as of the specified record date, after deduction of the applicable fees, taxes and expenses.
Distributions of Cash
Whenever we make a cash distribution for the securities on deposit with the custodian, we will deposit the funds with the custodian. Upon receipt of confirmation of the deposit of the requisite funds, the depositary bank will arrange for the funds to be converted into U.S. dollars and for the distribution of the U.S. dollars to the holders, subject to the laws and regulations of England and Wales.
The conversion into U.S. dollars will take place only if practicable and if the U.S. dollars are transferable to the United States. The depositary bank will apply the same method for distributing the proceeds of the sale of any property (such as undistributed rights) held by the custodian in respect of securities on deposit.
The distribution of cash will be made net of the fees, expenses, taxes and governmental charges payable by holders under the terms of the deposit agreement. The depositary bank will hold any cash amounts it is unable to distribute in a non-interest bearing account for the benefit of the applicable holders and beneficial owners of ADSs until the distribution can be effected or the funds that the depositary bank holds must be escheated as unclaimed property in accordance with the laws of the relevant states of the United States.
Distributions of Shares
Whenever we make a free distribution of ordinary shares for the securities on deposit with the custodian, we will deposit the applicable number of ordinary shares with the custodian. Upon receipt of confirmation of such deposit, the depositary bank will either distribute to holders new ADSs representing the ordinary shares deposited or modify the ADS-to-ordinary share ratio, in which case each ADS a Holder holds will represent rights and interests in an integral number of the additional ordinary shares so deposited. Only whole new ADSs will be distributed. Fractional entitlements will be sold and the proceeds of such sale will be distributed as in the case of a cash distribution.
The distribution of new ADSs or the modification of the ADS-to-ordinary share ratio upon a distribution of ordinary shares will be made net of the fees, expenses, taxes and governmental charges payable by holders under the terms of the deposit agreement. In order to pay such taxes or governmental charges, the depositary bank may sell all or a portion of the new ordinary shares so distributed.
No such distribution of new ADSs will be made if it would violate a law (i.e., the U.S. securities laws) or if it is not practicable. If the depositary bank does not distribute new ADSs as described above, it may sell the ordinary shares received upon the terms described in the deposit agreement and will distribute the proceeds of the sale as in the case of a distribution of cash.
Distributions of Rights
Whenever we intend to distribute rights to purchase additional ordinary shares, we will give prior notice to the depositary bank and will indicate whether we wish the elective distribution to be made available to you. In such case, we will assist the depositary bank in determining whether such distribution is lawful and reasonably practicable to distribute rights to purchase additional ADSs to holders.
The depositary bank will establish procedures to distribute rights to purchase additional ADSs to holders and to enable such holders to exercise such rights if it is lawful and reasonably practicable to make the rights available to holders of ADSs, we indicate that we wish such rights to be made available to holders of ADSs, and if we provide all of the documentation contemplated in the deposit agreement (such as opinions to address the lawfulness of the transaction). A Holder may have to pay fees, expenses, taxes and other governmental charges to subscribe for the new ADSs upon the exercise of a Holder’s rights. The depositary bank is not obligated to establish procedures to facilitate the distribution and exercise by holders of rights to purchase new ordinary shares other than in the form of ADSs.
The depositary bank will not distribute the rights to a Holder if:
|●||We do not timely request that the rights be distributed to a Holder or we request that the rights not be distributed to a Holder; or|
|●||We fail to deliver satisfactory documents to the depositary bank; or|
|●||It is not reasonably practicable to distribute the rights.|
The depositary bank will sell the rights that are not exercised or not distributed if such sale is lawful and reasonably practicable. The proceeds of such sale will be distributed to holders as in the case of a cash distribution. If the depositary bank is unable to sell the rights, it will allow the rights to lapse.
Whenever we intend to distribute a dividend payable at the election of shareholders either in cash or in additional shares, we will give prior notice thereof to the depositary bank and will indicate whether we wish the elective distribution to be made available to a Holder. In such case, we will assist the depositary bank in determining whether such distribution is lawful and reasonably practicable.
The depositary bank will make the election available to a Holder only if it is lawful and reasonably practicable, we indicate that we wish such election to be made available to holders of ADSs, and if we have provided all of the documentation contemplated in the deposit agreement. In such case, the depositary bank will establish procedures to enable a Holder to elect to receive either cash or additional ADSs, in each case as described in the deposit agreement.
If the election is not made available to a Holder, such Holder will receive either cash or additional ADSs, upon the terms described above for distributions of cash and ordinary shares, respectively, depending on what a shareholder in England and Wales would receive upon failing to make an election, as more fully described in the deposit agreement.
Whenever we intend to distribute property other than cash, ordinary shares or rights to purchase additional ordinary shares, we will notify the depositary bank in advance and will indicate whether we wish such distribution to be made to Holders. If so, we will assist the depositary bank in determining whether such distribution to holders is lawful and reasonably practicable.
If it is reasonably practicable to distribute such property to a Holder, we indicate that we wish such distribution to be made available to holders of ADSs, and if we provide all of the documentation contemplated in the deposit agreement, the depositary bank will distribute the property to the holders in a manner it deems practicable.
The distribution will be made net of fees, expenses, taxes and governmental charges payable by holders under the terms of the deposit agreement. In order to pay such taxes and governmental charges, the depositary bank may sell all or a portion of the property received.
The depositary bank will not distribute the property to a Holder and will sell the property if:
|●||We do not request that the property be distributed to a Holder or if we ask that the property not be distributed to a Holder; or|
|●||We do not deliver satisfactory documents to the depositary bank; or|
|●||The depositary bank determines that all or a portion of the distribution to a Holder is not reasonably practicable.|
The proceeds of such a sale will be distributed to holders as in the case of a cash distribution.
Whenever we decide to redeem any of the securities on deposit with the custodian, we will notify the depositary bank in advance. If it is practicable and if we provide all of the documentation contemplated in the deposit agreement, the depositary bank will provide notice of the redemption to the holders.
The custodian will be instructed to surrender the shares being redeemed against payment of the applicable redemption price. The depositary bank will convert the redemption funds received into U.S. dollars upon the terms of the deposit agreement and will establish procedures to enable holders to receive the net proceeds from the redemption upon surrender of their ADSs to the depositary bank. A Holder may have to pay fees, expenses, taxes and other governmental charges upon the redemption of a Holder’s ADSs. If less than all ADSs are being redeemed, the ADSs to be retired will be selected by lot or on a pro rata basis, as the depositary bank may determine.
Changes Affecting Ordinary Shares
The ordinary shares held on deposit for a Holder’s ADSs may change from time to time. For example, there may be a change in nominal or par value, a split-up, cancellation, consolidation or any other reclassification of such ordinary shares or a recapitalization, reorganization, merger, consolidation or sale of assets of the Company.
If any such change were to occur, a Holder’s ADSs would, to the extent permitted by law, represent the right to receive the property received or exchanged in respect of the ordinary shares held on deposit. The depositary bank may in such circumstances deliver new ADSs to a Holder, amend the deposit agreement, the ADRs and the applicable Registration Statement(s) on Form F-6, call for the exchange of a Holder’s existing ADSs for new ADSs and take any other actions that are appropriate to reflect as to the ADSs the change affecting the Shares. If the depositary bank may not lawfully distribute such property to a Holder, the depositary bank may sell such property and distribute the net proceeds to a Holder as in the case of a cash distribution.
Issuance of ADSs upon Deposit of Ordinary Shares
The depositary bank may create ADSs on a Holder’s behalf if a Holder or a Holder’s broker deposit ordinary shares with the custodian. The depositary bank will deliver these ADSs to the person a Holder indicates only after a Holder pays any applicable issuance fees and any charges and taxes payable for the transfer of the ordinary shares to the custodian. A Holder’s ability to deposit ordinary shares and receive ADSs may be limited by U.S. and English legal considerations applicable at the time of deposit.
The issuance of ADSs may be delayed until the depositary bank or the custodian receives confirmation that all required approvals have been given and that the ordinary shares have been duly transferred to the custodian. The depositary bank will only issue ADSs in whole numbers.
When a Holder makes a deposit of ordinary shares, a Holder will be responsible for transferring good and valid title to the depositary bank. As such, a Holder will be deemed to represent and warrant that:
|●||The ordinary shares are duly authorized, validly issued, fully paid, non-assessable and legally obtained.|
|●||All preemptive (and similar) rights, if any, with respect to such ordinary shares have been validly waived or exercised.|
|●||A Holder is duly authorized to deposit the ordinary shares.|
|●||The ordinary shares presented for deposit are free and clear of any lien, encumbrance, security interest, charge, mortgage or adverse claim, and are not, and the ADSs issuable upon such deposit will not be, “restricted securities” (as defined in the deposit agreement).|
|●||The ordinary shares presented for deposit have not been stripped of any rights or entitlements.|
If any of the representations or warranties are incorrect in any way, we and the depositary bank may, at a Holder’s cost and expense, take any and all actions necessary to correct the consequences of the misrepresentations.
Transfer, Combination and Split Up of ADRs
ADR Holders will be entitled to transfer, combine or split up such Holder’s ADRs and the ADSs evidenced thereby. For transfers of ADRs, a Holder will have to surrender the ADRs to be transferred to the depositary bank and also must:
|●||ensure that the surrendered ADR is properly endorsed or otherwise in proper form for transfer;|
|●||provide such proof of identity and genuineness of signatures as the depositary bank deems appropriate;|
|●||provide any transfer stamps required by the State of New York or the United States; and|
|●||pay all applicable fees, charges, expenses, taxes and other government charges payable by ADR holders pursuant to the terms of the deposit agreement, upon the transfer of ADRs.|
To have a Holder’s ADRs either combined or split up, such Holder must surrender the ADRs in question to the depositary bank with such Holder’s request to have them combined or split up, and such Holder must pay all applicable fees, charges and expenses payable by ADR holders, pursuant to the terms of the deposit agreement, upon a combination or split up of ADRs.
Withdrawal of Ordinary Shares Upon Cancellation of ADSs
ADS Holders will be entitled to present such Holder’s ADSs to the depositary bank for cancellation and then receive the corresponding number of underlying ordinary shares at the custodian’s offices. A Holder’s ability to withdraw the ordinary shares held in respect of the ADSs may be limited by U.S. and English considerations applicable at the time of withdrawal. In order to withdraw the ordinary shares represented by a Holder’s ADSs, such Holder will be required to pay to the depositary bank the fees for cancellation of ADSs and any charges and taxes payable upon the transfer of the ordinary shares being withdrawn. A Holder assumes the risk for delivery of all funds and securities upon withdrawal. Once canceled, the ADSs will not have any rights under the deposit agreement.
The depositary bank may ask a Holder to provide proof of identity and genuineness of any signature and such other documents as the depositary bank may deem appropriate before it will cancel a Holder’s ADSs. The withdrawal of the ordinary shares represented by a Holder’s ADSs may be delayed until the depositary bank receives satisfactory evidence of compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. Please keep in mind that the depositary bank will only accept ADSs for cancellation that represent a whole number of securities on deposit.
Holders will have the right to withdraw the securities represented by such Holder’s ADSs at any time except for:
|●||Temporary delays that may arise because (i) the transfer books for the ordinary shares or ADSs are closed, or (ii) ordinary shares are immobilized on account of a shareholders’ meeting or a payment of dividends;|
|●||Obligations to pay fees, taxes and similar charges; and|
|●||Restrictions imposed because of laws or regulations applicable to ADSs or the withdrawal of securities on deposit.|
The deposit agreement may not be modified to impair a Holder’s right to withdraw the securities represented by a Holder’s ADSs except to comply with mandatory provisions of law.
Holders generally have the right under the deposit agreement to instruct the depositary bank to exercise the voting rights for the ordinary shares represented by a Holder’s ADSs. The voting rights of holders of ordinary shares are described above in “Ordinary Shares—Voting Rights.”
At our request, the depositary bank will distribute to a Holder any notices of shareholders’ meetings received from us together with information explaining how to instruct the depositary bank to exercise the voting rights of the securities represented by ADSs.
If the depositary bank timely receives voting instructions from a holder of ADSs, it will endeavor to vote the securities (in person or by proxy) represented by the holder’s ADSs in accordance with the voting instructions received from such holder and as follows.
|●||In the event of voting by show of hands, the Depositary will vote (or cause the custodian to vote) all Shares held on deposit at that time in accordance with the voting instructions received from a majority of holders of ADSs who provide timely voting instructions.|
|●||In the event of voting by poll, the Depositary will vote (or cause the custodian to vote) the Shares held on deposit in accordance with the voting instructions received from the holders of ADSs. Under certain limited circumstances described in the deposit agreement, a person designated by us shall be entitled to vote the Shares held on deposit for which voting instructions have not been timely received by the depositary from holders of ADSs.|
Securities for which no voting instructions have been received will not be voted (except as otherwise contemplated herein). Please note that the ability of the depositary bank to carry out voting instructions may be limited by practical and legal limitations and the terms of the securities on deposit. We cannot assure that Holders will receive voting materials in time to enable such Holder to return voting instructions to the depositary bank in a timely manner.
Fees and Charges
The following table shows the fees and charges that a holder of our ADSs may have to pay, either directly or indirectly.
These fees and charges are set by the Depositary and are subject to change:
Issuance of ADSs
Up to U.S. 5¢ per ADS issued
Cancellation of ADSs
Up to U.S. 5¢ per ADS canceled
Distribution of cash dividends or other cash distributions
Up to U.S. 5¢ per ADS held
Distribution of ADSs pursuant to stock dividends, free stock distributions or exercise of rights
Up to U.S. 5¢ per ADS held
Distribution of securities other than ADSs or rights to purchase additional ADSs
Up to U.S. 5¢ per ADS held
Up to U.S. 5¢ per ADS held on the applicable record date(s) established by the depositary bank
As an ADS holder you will also be responsible for paying certain fees and expenses incurred by the depositary bank and certain taxes and governmental charges such as:
|●||Fees for the transfer and registration of Shares or other deposited securities, including those charged by the registrar and transfer agent for the Shares in England and Wales (i.e., upon deposit and withdrawal of Shares).|
|●||Expenses incurred for converting foreign currency into U.S. dollars.|
|●||Expenses for cable, telex and fax transmissions and for delivery of securities.|
|●||Taxes and duties (including applicable interest and penalties) and other governmental charges, including upon the transfer of securities (i.e., when Shares are deposited or withdrawn from deposit).|
|●||Fees and expenses as are incurred by the depositary bank in connection with compliance with exchange control regulations and other regulatory requirements applicable to Shares, deposited securities, ADSs and ADRs.|
|●||Fees and expenses incurred in connection with the delivery or servicing of Shares and other property on deposit.|
Depositary fees payable upon the issuance and cancellation of ADSs are typically paid to the depositary bank by the brokers (on behalf of their clients) receiving the newly issued ADSs from the depositary bank and by the brokers (on behalf of their clients) delivering the ADSs to the depositary bank for cancellation. The brokers in turn charge these fees to their clients. Depositary fees payable in connection with distributions of cash or securities to ADS holders and the depositary services fee are charged by the depositary bank to the holders of record of ADSs as of the applicable ADS record date.
The Depositary fees payable for cash distributions are generally deducted from the cash being distributed. In the case of distributions other than cash (i.e., stock dividend, rights), the depositary bank charges the applicable fee to the ADS record date holders concurrent with the distribution. In the case of ADSs registered in the name of the investor (whether certificated or uncertificated in direct registration), the depositary bank sends invoices to the applicable record date ADS holders. In the case of ADSs held in brokerage and custodian accounts (via DTC), the depositary bank generally collects its fees through the systems provided by DTC (whose nominee is the registered holder of the ADSs held in DTC) from the brokers and custodians holding ADSs in their DTC accounts. The brokers and custodians who hold their clients’ ADSs in DTC accounts in turn charge their clients’ accounts the amount of the fees paid to the depositary banks.
In the event of a refusal to pay the depositary fees, the depositary bank may, under the terms of the deposit agreement, refuse the requested service until payment is received or may set off the amount of the depositary fees from any distribution to be made to the ADS holder.
Note that the fees and charges you may be required to pay may vary over time and may be changed by us and by the depositary bank. You will receive prior notice of such changes.
The depositary bank may reimburse us for certain expenses incurred by us in respect of the ADS program established pursuant to the deposit agreement, by making available a portion of the depositary fees charged in respect of the ADS program or otherwise, upon such terms and conditions as we and the depositary bank may agree from time to time.
Amendments and Termination
We may agree with the depositary bank to modify the deposit agreement at any time without a Holder’s consent. We undertake to give holders 30 days’ prior notice of any modifications that would materially prejudice any of their substantial rights under the deposit agreement. We will not consider to be materially prejudicial to a Holder’s substantial rights any modifications or supplements that are reasonably necessary for the ADSs to be registered under the Securities Act or to be eligible for book-entry settlement, in each case without imposing or increasing the fees and charges such Holder is required to pay. In addition, we may not be able to provide Holders with prior notice of any modifications or supplements that are required to accommodate compliance with applicable provisions of law.
Holders will be bound by the modifications to the deposit agreement if such Holder’s continue to hold ADSs after the modifications to the deposit agreement become effective. The deposit agreement cannot be amended to prevent a Holder from withdrawing the ordinary shares represented by such Holder’s ADSs (except as permitted by law).
We have the right to direct the depositary bank to terminate the deposit agreement. Similarly, the depositary bank may in certain circumstances on its own initiative terminate the deposit agreement. In either case, the depositary bank must give notice to the holders at least 30 days before termination. Until termination, a Holder’s rights under the deposit agreement will be unaffected.
After termination, the depositary bank will continue to collect distributions received (but will not distribute any such property until a Holder request the cancellation of such Holder’s ADSs) and may sell the securities held on deposit. After the sale, the depositary bank will hold the proceeds from such sale and any other funds then held for the holders of ADSs in a non-interest bearing account. At that point, the depositary bank will have no further obligations to holders other than to account for the funds then held for the holders of ADSs still outstanding (after deduction of applicable fees, taxes and expenses).
Books of Depositary
The depositary bank will maintain ADS holder records at its depositary office. Holders may inspect such records at such office during regular business hours but solely for the purpose of communicating with other holders in the interest of business matters relating to the ADSs and the deposit agreement.
The depositary bank will maintain in New York facilities to record and process the issuance, cancellation, combination, split-up and transfer of ADSs. These facilities may be closed from time to time, to the extent not prohibited by law.
Limitations on Obligations and Liabilities
The deposit agreement limits our obligations and the depositary bank’s obligations to Holders. Please note the following:
|●||We and the depositary bank are obligated only to take the actions specifically stated in the deposit agreement without negligence or bad faith.|
|●||The depositary bank disclaims any liability for any failure to carry out voting instructions, for any manner in which a vote is cast or for the effect of any vote, provided it acts in good faith and in accordance with the terms of the deposit agreement.|
|●||The depositary bank disclaims any liability for any failure to determine the lawfulness or practicality of any action, for the content of any document forwarded to Holders on our behalf or for the accuracy of any translation of such a document, for the investment risks associated with investing in ordinary shares, for the validity or worth of the ordinary shares, for any tax consequences that result from the ownership of ADSs, for the credit-worthiness of any third party, for allowing any rights to lapse under the terms of the deposit agreement, for the timeliness of any of our notices or for our failure to give notice.|
|●||We and the depositary bank will not be obligated to perform any act that is inconsistent with the terms of the deposit agreement.|
|●||We and the depositary bank disclaim any liability if we or the depositary bank are prevented or forbidden from or subject to any civil or criminal penalty or restraint on account of, or delayed in, doing or performing any act or thing required by the terms of the deposit agreement, by reason of any provision, present or future of any law or regulation, or by reason of present or future provision of any provision of our articles of association or any provision of or governing the securities on deposit, or by reason of any act of God or war or other circumstances beyond our control.|
|●||We and the depositary bank disclaim any liability by reason of any exercise of, or failure to exercise, any discretion provided for in the deposit agreement or in our articles of association or in any provisions of or governing the securities on deposit.|
|●||We and the depositary bank further disclaim any liability for any action or inaction in reliance on the advice or information received from legal counsel, accountants, any person presenting Shares for deposit, any holder of ADSs or authorized representatives thereof, or any other person believed by either of us in good faith to be competent to give such advice or information.|
|●||We and the depositary bank also disclaim liability for the inability by a holder to benefit from any distribution, offering, right or other benefit that is made available to holders of ordinary shares but is not, under the terms of the deposit agreement, made available to Holders.|
|●||We and the depositary bank may rely without any liability upon any written notice, request or other document believed to be genuine and to have been signed or presented by the proper parties.|
|●||We and the depositary bank also disclaim liability for any consequential or punitive damages for any breach of the terms of the deposit agreement.|
|●||No disclaimer of any Securities Act liability is intended by any provision of the deposit agreement.|
A Holder will be responsible for the taxes and other governmental charges payable on the ADSs and the securities represented by the ADSs. We, the depositary bank and the custodian may deduct from any distribution the taxes and governmental charges payable by holders and may sell any and all property on deposit to pay the taxes and governmental charges payable by holders. You will be liable for any deficiency if the sale proceeds do not cover the taxes that are due.
The depositary bank may refuse to issue ADSs, to deliver, transfer, split-up or combine ADRs or to release securities on deposit until all taxes and charges are paid by the applicable holder. The depositary bank and the custodian may take reasonable administrative actions to obtain tax refunds and reduced tax withholding for any distributions on your behalf. However, you may be required to provide to the depositary bank and to the custodian proof of taxpayer status and residence and such other information as the depositary bank and the custodian may require to fulfill legal obligations. You are required to indemnify us, the depositary bank and the custodian for any claims with respect to taxes based on any tax benefit obtained for you.
Foreign Currency Conversion
The depositary bank will arrange for the conversion of all foreign currency received into U.S. dollars if such conversion is practical, and it will distribute the U.S. dollars in accordance with the terms of the deposit agreement. You may have to pay fees and expenses incurred in converting foreign currency, such as fees and expenses incurred in complying with currency exchange controls and other governmental requirements.
If the conversion of foreign currency is not practicable or lawful, or if any required approvals are denied or not obtainable at a reasonable cost or within a reasonable period, the depositary bank may take the following actions in its discretion:
|●||Convert the foreign currency to the extent practical and lawful and distribute the U.S. dollars to the holders for whom the conversion and distribution is lawful and practical.|
|●||Distribute the foreign currency to holders for whom the distribution is lawful and practical.|
|●||Hold the foreign currency (without liability for interest) for the applicable holders.|
Governing Law/Waiver of Jury Trial
The deposit agreement, the ADRs and the ADSs will be interpreted in accordance with the laws of the State of New York. The rights of holders of ordinary shares (including ordinary shares represented by ADSs) are governed by the laws of England and Wales. As an owner of ADSs, holders irrevocably agree that any legal action arising out of the Deposit Agreement, the ADSs or the ADRs, involving the Company or the Depositary, may only be instituted in a state or federal court in the city of New York.