Listed firms must hold AGMs in Singapore and conduct voting by poll, SGX mandates

THE Singapore Exchange (SGX) is taking steps to improve shareholder access to annual general meetings and to ensure their AGM votes are tallied accurately.

From Jan 1 next year, all companies and trusts with a primary listing here will have to hold their AGMs in Singapore, the SGX said in an announcement on Wednesday.

most companies do this already, but some continue to hold their meetings abroad.

For instance, earlier this year, some S-chips or China companies listed here held AGMs in Hong Kong or mainland China.

The AGM is the only chance most retail investors have to meet and question management.

In June 2011, the SGX issued a consultation paper proposing that all firms with primary listings here be required to hold their AGMs in Singapore.

Under the new rule, if a locally-listed firm faces legal constraints preventing it from holding AGMs in Singapore, "they are advised to provide alternative modes of engagement" with shareholders, the SGX said.

This could be a webcast or organising meetings to provide shareholders based here with a chance to pose queries and seek clarification from management.

Under another new rule, listed companies and trusts will be required to conduct voting by poll by Aug 1, 2015.

Many firms have long used a show of hands by shareholders to determine the outcome of resolutions, rather than a poll where all votes are counted precisely.

The bourse operator said the move will enhance voting transparency and encourage greater shareholder participation.

The SGX will also require the prompt disclosure of these voting outcomes, again from Aug 1, 2015. This will improve the quality of information disseminated to all shareholders.

It said that listed firms and trusts have a "two-year period to implement the poll voting processes and disclosure of voting outcomes".