Press Statement: Time for virtual AGMs

Date: February 27, 2020

SIAS welcomes the decision by SGX RegCo and ACRA to allow companies to postpone AGMs up to 30 June 2020 due to concerns about large-group meetings amid Covid-19. This is in response to concerns by shareholders who want to participate and vote at AGMs but are concerned about attending large-group meetings. Such concerns have been raised to SIAS by shareholders.

SIAS has already anticipated these concerns by retail investors and have been advising companies wishing to hold physical meetings to use digital and other media platforms to engage their shareholders until Covid-19 situation is no longer a threat. For instance, the SIAS dialogue session with Frasers Logistics & Industrial Trust (FLT) and Frasers Commercial Trust (FCOT) on their proposed merger will be through a webcast. This is to reach out to all unitholders of both REITs. The current exercise of holding dialogue sessions through webcasting gives companies and shareholders the opportunity to consider future similar engagements. In addition, those unitholders who are unable to watch the webcast can watch it at their own convenience as the webcast would be available on both SIAS and the respective companies’ websites.

Notwithstanding the postponement of the AGMs because of the Covid-19 situation, companies must practice continuous disclosure which is timely and effective.

It is timely for the relevant authorities to consider introducing legislation to enable companies to hold virtual meetings which will enormously benefit their stakeholders. As far as we understand, UK, Canada, New Zealand and Australia have already begun allowing virtual meetings. It is time Singapore does the same.

David Gerald
Founder, President & CEO
Securities Investors Association (Singapore)