Virtual AGMs will benefit firms more

There are many ways that listed companies can save costs on their annual general meetings (Food for thought for shareholders at AGMs; April 16).

Every year, I receive notices of AGMs from listed companies. Some have done away with thick annual reports and replaced them with CDs.

Firms that still deliver thick annual reports should go green and use CDs instead.

Then, there are repeat notices of AGMs published in the press.

According to SGX listing rules, any notice of a meeting shall be given by advertisement in the press.

It is time for SGX to remove this rule.

Why send notices by mail and also through advertisements? This is a waste of money. Every cent listed companies save is money and, when accumulated, it means a lot.

Another issue is when a shareholder is unable to attend an AGM. They can nominate a proxy to act of their behalf.

But why isn't the option of an electronic vote available?

In fact, Singapore listed firms are already behind time. In the United States, more than 250 firms conduct their AGMs through video conference. Virtual AGMs enable firms to increase shareholders' accessibility while improving efficiency and reducing costs.

SGX should also consider allowing shareholders to send their questions in advance via e-mail to the board to answer, whether the shareholder is present or not.

Virtual AGMs will also potentially increase the participation of shareholders who would otherwise not be able to travel.

Cheng Choon Fei

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 18, 2018, with the headline 'Virtual AGMs will benefit firms more'. Print Edition | Subscribe