Euronext Securities Copenhagen has worked with Obton and Koncenton to develop an end-to-end solution for virtual annual general meetings (VGMs). Each of the two investment firms now has a solution that is tailored to their unique needs and empowers them to run their own VGMs as a part of a self-service solution.
Two fast-growing alternative investment funds
Owned by the Obton Group, both Obton and Koncenton have experienced an exceptional growth rate in recent years.
Obton operates at the forefront of the transition towards more sustainable energy sources, helping new and experienced professional and semi-professional investors diversify their holdings by investing in solar plants around the world. The investment firm is among the largest investors in solar energy in Europe and has more than 4,000 investors and +20 billions under management
For the past three years, Koncenton has been the largest property investment firm in Denmark, and invested DKK 5 billion in properties during 2021 alone. This year, the company plans to add over 60 properties to its rapidly expanding portfolio and grow by 1,000 investors. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, both companies held in-person annual general meetings (AGMs). Given the large number of investors involved in both companies, the pandemic-related restrictions posed unique challenges.
Pandemic prompts search for a virtual, self-service solution
“Our AGM process was very physical before the pandemic,” relates Mads Møller Wejdemann, Director, Investor Services at Obton. “We scanned barcodes to verify the attendees, passed out paper ballots and collected votes manually. So, when it was no longer possible to hold a physical meeting, we needed to find a platform that would enable us to interact with our investors.” Because Obton and Koncenton have to hold an AGM for each investment fund, they needed to find a solution with a robust self-service element. “It would be a very expensive solution if we had to have a vendor provide support to hold all of our AGMs when we have so many, so one of our main requirements was the ability to run the VGMs ourselves,” he says.
Developing a tailored VGM solution
Obton and Koncenton worked with Euronext Securities Copenhagen to develop end-to-end VGM solutions that are tailored to each investment firm’s unique needs. Koncenton developed a two-factor model, which enables the company to adjust the VGM format based on the number of attendees. “For meetings with a small investor turnout, we use the Euronext set-up for the registration process, and run the actual meeting on the Microsoft Teams platform,” explains Kenneth Klitgaard Sørensen, Company Manager at Koncenton. “But when we hold our large meetings, where we need to manage participants and voting, we need to have a digital flow covering the entire meeting.” Koncenton is also working with Euronext Securities Copenhagen to minimise the delay between the live event and the feed that investors watch. One of Obton’s requirements was being able to integrate the VGM solution with their order books, so the two systems could communicate with each other. They were able to find a solution to this requirement as well. Both investment firms have used Company Webcast as an integrated part of their VGM solution.
Virtual format has its advantages
While the shift to virtual AGMs was made out of necessity, both Obton, Koncenton and their investors have discovered the advantages of meeting virtually. “One of our goals as an investment firm is to keep our investors as informed as possible and give them insight into their investments and how they’re performing,” says Kenneth Klitgaard. “The virtual format gives us more options so we can have as many attendees as possible. Some investors who might have been hesitant to spend an entire day in transit just to attend a 1.5-hour meeting, can now attend virtually. Our hope is that this will increase the overall number of attendees. And, generally speaking, investors appreciate not having to attend physically.”
The virtual format also eases the administrative burden, as Mads Wejdemann points out. “When we had paper-based voting, we had to manually collect the votes and count them, which took a great deal of time. Now everything is handled digitally, and that makes the process a lot easier to manage.”
Going forward, both investment firms will use a hybrid approach, offering investors the opportunity to attend virtually or physically. “Some people like to know who the other investors are, and by offering a hybrid solution, we can meet everyone’s needs, whether they prefer the physical or virtual format,” Mads Wejdemann says.
VGM is a tool for companies that wish to foster active ownership and see a higher participation and interaction than in a physical meeting.
- Flexible set-up for issuers
- Fully or partially virtual meeting
- Static, dynamic or live video stream & audio
- Ability to add and modify agenda points
- Secure back-up of data and functionality
Originally this article appeared on Euronext Securities.