COVID-19 and the Future of Shareholder Meetings
The peak of the pandemic coincided with AGM season in many countries – posing a governance risk for many companies. Regulators reacted positively, moving quickly to enable virtual meetings and remote voting. It is early to assess the long-term viability of virtual shareholder participation, but, like so many changes in the time of COVID-19, what began as a business risk has developed into an operational opportunity.
Virtual – or, at least, hybrid – AGMs could become entrenched as an acceptable alternative if they increase shareholder participation. Regulators’ fears for physical attendance can be dismissed if technology will be robust and secure.
Central depositories of many countries have already begun organising electronic general meetings. These countries include: Russia, Turkey, Ukraine and Poland.