Annual Meetings 2020 – Several companies postpone AGM
Listed companies are obliged by law to carry out their AGM within six months after the end of the financial year. However, for "good reasons" it may be possible to postpone beyond this date. It is not entirely clear whether the Corona virus is considered to be one. Though logically it should be as the ban imposed by the Swiss Governments on events with over 1000 participants obviously limits the holding of shareholders' meetings at which more than 1000 participants are expected. If fewer than 1000 Shareholders are expected than permission is still required from the respective canton. The freedom of movement imposed by some European countries is another complicating factor. Suishare expects, aligned with the current travel and meeting trends we see at the moment in society, that attendances will be low, but engaged Shareholders and those with questions will still be in attendance
Some companies, like Bell Food Group, Orior and Hypothekarbank Lenzburg have already announced postponements of their AGM’s and SUISHARE respects thzeir caution and respect for the safety of their shareholders. Alternative dates will be announced when there is better clarity as to the spread or hopefully containment of the virus.
Even in cases where invitations have already been sent, the shareholders' meeting can still be canceled at short notice and the company must be diligent in informing shareholders for example; send a letter to the shareholders and post postponement on thier website, inform the press, etc.
One expects that certain courses of action will be followed:
- Votes already sent to the independent proxy by electronic or postal means, will be invalidated and the share register is open again and share transactions will be entered as usual until the new date is announced. The voting begins anew.
- The dividend payment to shareholders will occur after the reset AGM - subject to approval by the General Meeting.
Companies may be creative and divide the shareholders into smaller groups hosted in different rooms in the event location, or even in different locations around Switzerland to curtail travel needs, with the more engaged and question asking shareholders being physically present in the arena with the Board and key executives.
A majority of companies though do intend to hold their AGN’s as planned. Here some examples:
Roche will hold its shareholders' meeting, in Basel on March 17. In 2019 there were about 800 shareholders present. Roche as a world healthcare leader especially in Diagnostics will certainly take every precaution and we expect that they will have the highest safety measures in place.
Valora, SGS, Leonteq and many others who do not have a massive amount of attendees are progressing with their set dates. Many companies additionally encourage shareholders to vote online though this method in some configurations is not trusted by all Shareholders
Some companies are still on the fence:
ABB (March 26) for example continues to monitor the situation around the corona virus closely, and will also need to reconsider if more than 1000 participants, though over the last 3 AGM’s this threshold was not exceeded.
Shareholders are also balancing their interest to attend against the current risks.
Current Status (at 11 March 2020)
|17. Mrz 20||Roche||Taking Place|
|17. Mrz 20||CPH||Taking Place|
|17. Mrz 20||Bell Food Group||POSTPONED|
|19. Mrz 20||DKSH||Taking Place|
|19. Mrz 20||Schindler||Taking Place|
|19. Mrz 20||BB Biotech||Taking Place|
|21. Mrz 20||Hypothekarbank Lenzburg||POSTPONED|
|24. Mrz 20||Valora||Taking Place|
|24. Mrz 20||Implenia||Taking Place|
|24. Mrz 20||SGS||Taking Place|
|24. Mrz 20||Also||Taking Place|
|24. Mrz 20||Bellevue Group||Taking Place|
|24. Mrz 20||SPS||Taking Place|
|25. Mrz 20||Novavest||Taking Place|
|25. Mrz 20||Givaudan||Taking Place|
|25. Mrz 20||Meier Tobler||Taking Place|
|25. Mrz 20||Autoneum||Taking Place|
|26. Mrz 20||ABB||Taking Place|
|27. Mrz 20||Titlis-Bahn||Taking Place|
|30. Mrz 20||Clariant||Taking Place|
|30. Mrz 20||Belimo||Taking Place|
|30. Mrz 20||Vontobel||Taking Place|
|31. Mrz 20||Orior||POSTPONED|
|31. Mrz 20||Newron||Taking Place|
|31. Mrz 20||Leonteq||Taking Place|
|31. Mrz 20||Mobimo||Taking Place|