ST Engineering holds 'no-frills' AGM

Water, coffee and tea.

That was the only sustenance shareholders attending Singapore Technologies Engineering's (ST Engineering) annual general meeting (AGM) were treated to yesterday.

The no-frills event, held at the Star Gallery in Buona Vista, was a world apart from an AGM at Pan Pacific Singapore, where United Overseas Bank threw a buffet for its shareholders - delivering the kind of treatment many in the investing community have come to expect from their boards. The UOB spread included chicken wings and dim sum.

ST Engineering's AGM seemed to be a step down, some investors said. After all, each attendee received a $15 FairPrice voucher last year.

But an ST Engineering spokesman said: "We want shareholders to concentrate on the issues at hand - our business plan, shareholder return, corporate governance and performance."

The spokesman noted that it was "no longer feasible" for the firm to give vouchers to all present.

"As a result of the new multiple proxies regime under the Companies Act amendment, attendance at our AGM could potentially increase significantly."

Shareholders were notified in a letter sent with their AGM notice that vouchers would not be given at future meetings, said the spokesman.

About 200 to 300 shareholders attended ST Engineering's AGM, and that number ebbed away as each of the 16 resolutions was passed.

One shareholder questioned the board about the lack of freebies, but another stood in support of the drinks-only arrangement.

Mr David Gerald, president of the Securities Investors Association of Singapore, said: "AGMs are about the annual report and shareholders seeking accountability from the board.

"Vouchers, gifts and food served at AGMs are a privilege, not a right of shareholders."

As many as 21 Singapore-listed firms held their AGMs yesterday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 22, 2016, with the headline 'ST Engineering holds 'no-frills' AGM'. Print Edition | Subscribe