AGMs

Webcasts limit shareholder participation

There are a slew of annual general meetings (AGMs) in April by companies which have financial years that end in December.

Since there are hundreds of AGMs in April, shareholders may find it difficult to participate in many of them as their timings may clash.

Due to the Covid-19 situation, most of the AGMs are now conducted using live webcasts with very limited investor participation; many of them do not have live question-and-answer sessions.

Sadly, these once-a-year AGMs now look like regular board meetings and are wrapped up in double quick time.

AGMs are normally the only opportunity for retail investors to engage with the board of directors and key management personnel. Quarterly reporting has been done away with, and only the mandatory half-yearly reporting remains. The retail investor is at a huge disadvantage in making informed investment decisions.

It's about time the Monetary Authority of Singapore and the Singapore Exchange stepped in to make it a requirement that AGMs be conducted in a certain way.

A hybrid model would be good: where some shareholders can physically attend the meeting, and there is a live webcast for shareholders to ask questions.

There should, or course, be stringent safety protocols instituted to have a safe and fruitful AGM.

Active engagement with shareholders is also good for companies.

This is an issue that should be urgently addressed, to enhance the vibrancy of the Singapore stock market.

S. Nallakaruppan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 03, 2021, with the headline 'Webcasts limit shareholder participation'. Subscribe