Companies organising AGMs in April, says report

Companies listed on the Singapore Exchange (SGX) are organising their annual general meetings (AGMs) around the same period in a year, particularly the last two days of April.

This has been revealed in a report titled ‘The Singapore Report on Shareholder Meetings: Dawn of Activism’, authored by Associate Professor Mak Yuen Teen of the National University of Singapore Business School and MBA graduate and active investor Chew Yi Hong.

The report covered 893 meetings conducted last year by 703 issuers with a primary listing on the Singapore Exchange (SGX).Of the 893 meetings, 694 were AGMs and 199, extraordinary general meetings (EGMs).

Listed  companies are organising their AGMs particularly on the last two days of April.
Listed companies are organising their AGMs particularly on the last two days of April. Photo courtesy:

The main thrust of the report was the continued clustering of AGMs and EGMs around the traditionally popular period of April.

In Singapore, most companies have Dec 31 as their financial year-end, and the Companies Act requires that listed companies should hold their AGMs within four months of their year-end.

The report observed that a total of 433 shareholder meetings was held last April. Out of this, 428 were AGMs and five were EGMs. These accounted for 62 per cent of all AGMs and nearly half of all shareholder meetings.

However, the number of meetings held in the last two business days of April 2016 was significantly higher than in the last two years. There were whopping 97 meetings held on April 28 (Thursday) and 95 on April 29 (Friday).

Similarly, about 80 AGMs were held on each of the last two days of April 2015.

Speaking about the trend of clustering of AGMs, Prof Mak observed, “It is disappointing that, though there is a slight improvement in the clustering of AGMs in the last week of April last year, the last two business days of that month were significantly worse.”

He added, “Clustering of meetings prevents shareholders from attending meetings and can affect the voting of shares. This results in reduced accountability of directors to shareholders and may affect access to information from AGMs.”

However, Chew offers some solution and said, “There are simple solutions available that can ameliorate the problems caused by clustering. We hope to see the Exchange encourage issuers to webcast their AGMs, to adopt online voting and to make the posting of detailed minutes of meetings available on SGXNet if the issuer chooses to hold its AGM on a peak day.”

But the report also named some listed companies which had held their shareholder meetings earlier and so avoided the AGM crush.