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Guide released to help organisations navigate new world of virtual AGMs

A new guide to holding a virtual AGM has been released that will assist the ASX-listed organisations holding their meetings before the end of the year, as well as anyone else still grappling with holding a meeting during the pandemic.

Produced by Governance Institute of Australia and the Australasian Investor Relations Association, with the assistance of the Business Law Section of the Law Council of Australia, the new guide provides key tips on how to hold a virtual meeting in line with the current legislative requirements and ASIC guidelines.

“This new guidance will provide much needed clarity for the many organisations rapidly heading towards their AGM,” Governance Institute CEO Megan Motto said.

“The Guidance has been informed by the experience of our members who had to rapidly adjust to the pandemic in the mini AGM season and hold virtual AGMs.”

Virtual AGM tips outlined in the new guide include:

Before your meeting:

  • Contact your registry and technology provider to discuss tech arrangements. You will need a secure, robust platform that will provide a seamless experience for shareholders.
  • Hold rehearsals to test the technology that will be used to facilitate the meeting and confirm that the chair and key stakeholders are comfortable with the process.

Notice of meeting:

  • State clearly in the notice that the meeting will be held online and that there will be no physical meeting. Keep communications with your shareholders about how they can participate in the meeting clear and simple.

During the AGM:

  • Ensure shareholders can communicate while the meeting is underway – and be prepared to answer questions about the use of the technology.
  • Open the poll for voting at the beginning of the meeting and communicate clearly about when this is due to close.

Currently companies can hold an AGM using technology rather than face-to-face meetings as part of temporary measures introduced during COVID-19. These will be in effect until to 21 March 2021, with debate continuing whether these will be made permanent.

Most recently, the Senate Select Committee on Financial Technology and Regulatory Technology has released its interim report making 32 recommendations, including organisations being allowed to decide their meeting formats going forward, whether that is online, face-to-face or hybrid.

Governance Institute has welcomed this report, having advocated strongly for these changes to be made permanent.

Download the new guide: Holding a virtual AGM

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