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I want to talk about share purchases made by BT Group plc (BT.A, 92.5p) Directors and PDMRs on June 1st, namely Ian Livingstone, Tony Chanmugan, Sally Davis, Rod Louwhoff, Gavin Patterson and Al-Noor Ramji, who between them bought over 1/2 million shares at 89p (source: London Stock Exchange)

Warning bells ring as soon as I see this number of directors buying shares all at the same time.

So a close look at the BT Group Annual report 2009 (May 13) reveals the reason as follows:

Page 58: ‘All executive directors and members of the Operating Committee will, immediately after payment, use their annual cash bonus for 2008/2009, after tax, to purcahse shares in the company’.

Page 60: ‘The CEO is required to build up a shareholding of 2x salary and the remaining directors 1.5x salary.’

Looking at the declared cash bonus for Livingstone of 343,000 pounds, netting of 40% tax, gives around 200,000 pounds. Livingstone bought 224,000 shares at 89p on June 1st.

We thoroughly support this requirement to purchase shares, as it aligns the Executive members of the Board and the Operating Committee with shoreholders, but it means that for ‘signals’ generated by directors dealings we need to look at activity by non execs.

Sir Michael Rake, the non executive Chairman, has been buying shares. He bought 12,000 at 166p in September, 20,000 at 127p in November, and 28,000 at 72p in March.

These purchases are relatively small, and have not (yet) been reinforced by activity by other non execs.

Further buying activity by other non execs would send a positive signal.

View on BT Group: Neutral (no signal from directors dealing activity).

See other comments by followthedirectors on BT Group here.

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