Coronavirus pandemic

Plans for legislative changes on conduct of investor meetings

The Monetary Authority of Singapore and the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority are working with other government agencies to propose legislative amendments in relation to corporate sector meetings.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore and the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority are working with other government agencies to propose legislative amendments in relation to corporate sector meetings.PHOTO: ST FILE

Issuers will be able to limit number of attendees, hold virtual meetings

Listed companies will soon get legal certainty on how they can conduct shareholder meetings while complying with safe-distancing rules.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore and the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority are working with other government agencies to propose legislative amendments in relation to corporate sector meetings.

The amendments could be introduced at next month's parliamentary sitting, they said yesterday in a joint statement with the Singapore Exchange Regulation (SGX RegCo).

It comes a day after the authorities suspended all events - even those with fewer than 250 participants - as part of tightened measures to minimise the spread of Covid-19.

The amended legislation will allow issuers to limit the number of attendees in a physical meeting and for other people to participate by virtual means. It will also give issuers the option to hold meetings solely by virtual means.

"Issuers are to put in place arrangements for participants to cast their votes remotely in writing or through electronic means," the statement said.

The Companies Act does not have provisions relating to virtual meetings, but there are no provisions expressly prohibiting them either.

All issuers are expected to comply with the Ministry of Health's mandatory safe-distancing rules and must implement all relevant measures in the conduct of meetings, said yesterday's joint statement.

SGX RegCo said last month that issuers with a Dec 31 fiscal year-end have the deadline for holding their annual general meetings extended to June 30.

Issuers who need more time to put in place alternative arrangements for organising virtual meetings will be able to obtain an extension, it added yesterday.

 
 
 
 

"Investors are strongly encouraged to use alternative ways available to participate in meetings, including virtual meetings," the joint statement said.

"To exercise their voting rights, investors should consider appointing the chairperson of the general meeting to act as proxy and direct the vote at the general meeting."

SGX RegCo added that it is working with the Securities Investors Association (Singapore), or Sias, to provide further guidance to investors on how they can participate and cast their votes.

THE BUSINESS TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 26, 2020, with the headline 'Plans for legislative changes on conduct of investor meetings'. Print Edition | Subscribe