Pretty daft that AGMs are not linked online to shareholders
To expect shareholders to travel to a central point is nonsensical when digital communication is ubiquitous
It’s a mystery why companies don’t provide all shareholders with electronic or telephonic access to their annual general meetings, if not for voting then for the chance to engage the board.
For companies with a number of listings in different countries the mystery is tougher to explain. To expect shareholders to travel to a central point to be able to ask questions and engage with the board’s chairperson and directors on a public platform is nonsensical when digital communication is nearly ubiquitous.
Shareholders at Orion Minerals, for example, can dial in to proceedings at the company’s AGM in Perth in June. While those shareholders will not be able to vote they will be able to participate in a meeting that hitherto would be handled by a proxy.
Yes, some AGMs are bland, box-ticking affairs and concluded within 10 minutes, attended by the smallest number of investors. But others are far more fiery, with the board challenged on executive remuneration (a source of growing unhappiness among investors) and share issues along with environmental and community concerns.
These meetings can drag on for a few hours, as recently witnessed with Anglo American’s AGM in London that the company’s SA investor base could access only through Twitter and Facebook commentaries from activists grilling the resources company.
For the sake of corporate transparency and accessibility companies must give as wide a range of shareholders as is possible the opportunity to participate in annual meetings.