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“Overdue” changes to Corporations Act welcomed by Governance Institute

The Governance Institute of Australia has welcomed Treasurer Josh Frydenberg MP’s announcement that the Corporations Act will be amended to allow virtual AGMs, electronic execution of documents by company officers and providing notices of annual general meetings for a six month period from 5 May 2020.

The announcement comes as around 290 ASX organisations head into the May mini-meeting season, scrambling to hold their meeting in accordance with the restrictions in place due to coronavirus (COVID-19), while still upholding their legal requirements under the 20-year-old Corporations Act.

Governance Institute CEO Megan Motto welcomed the changes, saying they deliver some certainty for many companies planning their annual reporting to shareholders this year.

“Many organisations have been facing significant hurdles recently including restrictions on their ability to use technology to hold meetings, communicate with their shareholders, or use electronic signatures on documents – as required under the nearly 20-year-old legislation,” Ms Motto said.

“We have consistently advocated that the requirements of the Corporations Act are holding back digital innovation in the way that companies can engage with their shareholders, particularly in the current environment. In the long term a simplified regulatory framework that accommodates evolving technologies for shareholder communication and enables shareholders to participate will facilitate shareholder rights and improve shareholder engagement.”

To assist companies struggling to navigate the laws as well as the COVID-19 requirements, the Governance Institute issued a dedicated guidance on ‘COVID-19 and the impact on AGMs’, found

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