Why the 2021 AGM season will be different (And how to prepare)
The AGM season in 2020 faced a series of major challenges as the COVID-19 pandemic spread across Europe. Numerous shareholder meetings were postponed and re-organised, with businesses having to adjust their attendance and voting procedures to take into account restrictions on large gatherings and their own country’s regulatory requirements.
One of the major disruptions to the AGM season as a result of COVID-19 was the restriction of live voting rights. Companies sought to overcome this hurdle and continue to allow shareholders to submit questions and have their say over proceedings in different ways. Governments across the European markets passed emergency legislation to allow issuers to adapt to the unprecedented conditions and still fulfil their responsibilities to their shareholders without the ability to hold the usual in-person events.
Across the main European markets, shareholders had their live voting rights restricted, in 79.6% of cases. More than 90% of shareholder meetings in the UK, Germany, France, Switzerland and Italy formulated these restrictions, with just over three-quarters of AGMs in the Netherlands following suit. In contrast, only 2.85% of Spanish AGMs restricted live voting and there were no restrictions at all in Denmark. A Royal Decree in Belgium allowed companies to require shareholders to vote only by proxy or electronically in advance of the AGM, meaning many investors could not take part in live voting.
As the reality of the extended pandemic became obvious, many companies across the globe took advantage of the temporarily relaxed rules and shifted their events either entirely online or to a hybrid format. However, with no fixed date on when large gatherings will be allowed again, it seems like virtual shareholder meetings could continue into 2021.
Download the full eBook to find out what to expect in 2021, how to prepare and why it might just form the blueprint for the future.