Registered societies, firms allowed to hold virtual AGMs

Registered societies and companies are now allowed to conduct annual general meetings (AGMs) through alternative means, to keep in line with safe distancing measures to fight the coronavirus under a new law passed yesterday.

Speaking during the debate on the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Bill in Parliament, Senior Minister of State for Law Edwin Tong said the amendment allows AGMs to be held without the need for stakeholders to be physically present as these meetings can now be held virtually, he said.

The arrangements are designed to be pragmatic, with the safety of participants a priority.

Safeguards will be in place to facilitate informed and effective participation, bearing in mind technological constraints and security considerations. Mr Tong said: "A smaller quorum number could also be set. Documents, such as notices of meetings and proxy forms, may be sent by electronic means, instead of hard copy."

He said proxy voting can be used, with one specific office-holder, such as the chairman, designated as the sole proxy, as a safeguard. The meetings must also have live video and audio feeds.

The coronavirus situation has affected firms in the corporate sector, along with others such as charities, societies, co-operative societies, trade unions and MCSTs, or management corporation strata titles, noted Mr Tong.

Meetings must be held for functions such as approving dividend payments, and for the appointment of company directors, said Mr Tong. However, certain AGMs have been postponed since March 27, when the safe distancing measures were implemented. The law will apply retrospectively from March 27.

Earlier in Parliament, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs Amrin Amin said that the Registry of Societies will allow societies to adopt such alternative arrangements. Details will be shared soon.

The Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority said all listed and non-listed companies have been given a 60-day extension to hold their AGMs, as well as an automatic 60-day extension for companies to file their annual returns.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 08, 2020, with the headline Registered societies, firms allowed to hold virtual AGMs. Subscribe