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It is officially AGM Season! This is because most companies hold their AGMs (Annual General Meetings) in the next couple of months, because they are required to within 5 months after the end of their chosen financial year and that deadline is the end of November for companies that use the July-June financial year.
In this article, we outline how investors should approach their company’s AGM and what they should look out for.
Why should investors care and attend their company’s meeting this AGM season?
Because at an AGM, investors can make themselves heard. By exercising their right to vote, listening to and asking questions of management they can determine whether or not their company is headed in the right direction and act if they feel things are not headed in the right direction. If you cannot attend in person, you can still vote on shareholder resolutions virtually.
A company must give at least 28 days notice for the meeting and it will advise shareholders of what motions will be voted on as well as tell investors how they can vote virtually.
What will happen at an AGM?
Each company’s meeting is different but three things will always occur.
- The company will outline its results for the previous year and formally present its own report and that of the auditors
- Shareholders will vote on directors up for re-election and on auditors as well as to formally receive the aforementioned reports. They will also vote on the granting of shares, options or performance rights to directors or sometimes to new investors.
- There will be a time for investors to ask questions of directors and management.
Most votes will be a fait accompli – passed unanimously or with little opposition. But sometimes they are not. At some companies, shareholders can come together and defeat proposed resolutions. This may well happen at Qantas‘ (ASX:QAN) upcoming AGM where shareholders will vote on bonuses for Alan Joyce.
It is difficult for individual investors to do much unless they are institutional and/or are substantial shareholders. But it is possible to get enough investors together and make change happen. Sometimes, shareholders can move their own motions and one they could do is pass a motion to remove certain directors – we’ve written about how it can be done in another article.
Where will AGMs be held? It is up to management but it will be in a place where a large portion of their investor base is or in their home city. Some companies may use the opportunity to give investors site tours if they are in the industrial space.
Can meetings be held at other times?
Yes, meetings can be held at other times. Meetings held that aren’t AGMs are called Extraordinary General Meetings (EGMs) and can be called by a quorum of 5% of shareholders or by the company for whatever reason required (most commonly to vote on a transaction or to respond to a s.249D notice).
Many procedural rules apply here too, although the meeting will be held just to consider the one reason why it has been called. Up until a decade ago, a quorum of just 100 shareholders was enough to call a meeting. But this was abolished by the Abbott government after 100 renegade Woolworths shareholders forced an unnecessary EGM so now 5% of shareholders are needed.
Pay attention to your company’s meeting
The bottom line here is that investors should care about their company’s AGM and make an effort to listen in either virtually or in person. They will obtain a greater sense of how the company is going that they wouldn’t get just be reading the occasional ASX announcement. By doing so, they can tell if they are invested in the right company.
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