Date: March 25, 2020
The annual AGM season for companies will soon be upon us. As companies continue with their operations, they must also put in measures to ensure compliance with Ministry of Health’s (MOH) advisory notices like ensuring safe distancing. The latest MOH advisory is that gatherings should be less than 10 people and all events to be cancelled, would impact greatly on companies’ ability to hold their AGMs. In the circumstance, companies should provide appropriate means for shareholders to interact with the Board like providing opportunities to ask questions, provide video and webcast facilitates so that shareholders can participate at the AGM remotely. This is in advance of the proposed legislative amendments for the Parliament sitting in April 2020, in relation to the conduct of meetings.
In this current evolving situation, SIAS would like to provide some guidance to all shareholders to help them monitor their investments:
- Avoid attending AGMs
Companies will have to restrict the number of attendees at AGMs to less than 10 attendees. Therefore, many companies would find it a challenge to cater to shareholders attending the AGM in person. SIAS encourage shareholders to participate at AGMs via other means as detailed below. Senior citizens should avoid attending AGMs altogether.
- Stay on top of your investments – send questions ahead of the AGM
Shareholders should continue to monitor their investments and read the annual report. Shareholders should send their questions to the company’s investor relations contact or company’s email, giving at least one week notice, ahead of time, for the company to address. Shareholders should also keep track of the company announcements on the company website or SGXNet announcements.
- Right to vote – submit proxy forms
One of the key rights as a shareholder is the right to vote your shares on corporate elections and other resolutions. Shareholders should continue to exercise their voting right by submitting proxy forms in writing in advance or through electronic means to appoint the Chairperson of the general meeting to act as proxy and direct the vote at the general meeting. CPF/SRS investors who wish to appoint the Chairman as their proxy, should approach their respective CPF Agent Banks/SRS Operators to submit their votes at least seven working days before the AGM/EGM general meetings.
- Watch webcast of AGMs – stay updated
Where the AGMs are webcast, shareholders should stay updated and follow the AGM via the webcast. However, shareholders should not congregate to watch the webcast and ensure safe distancing measures are practiced and MOH advisories are adhered to.
- Guidance on dividends
Shareholders are naturally concerned that postponement of AGMs could mean a delay in dividend payment. Shareholders should enquire from the company on it’s decision on dividend payment. Companies which are able to declare dividends should do so and not hold back.
SIAS strongly advises all shareholders to utilize the options available to them by companies to participate at AGMs and understand that the precautionary measures are put in place for the safety of all stakeholders and your families. You should follow strictly instructions of the companies and the MOH advisory notices.
Let us all work towards playing our part in eradicating COVID-19. We are stronger together.
Founder, President & CEO
Securities Investors Association (Singapore)