Shareholder meetings ‘downsized’

Aug 31, 2011
<p>2011 proxy season shows latest decline in physical annual meetings with most held at company offices, finds BNY Mellon research</p>

Companies have continued to downsize the annual shareholder meeting, raising questions about the future of the physical event, according to new research of the 2011 AGM season from BNY Mellon.

The study – which analyzed more than 500 meetings held by BNY Mellon Shareowner Services clients – finds that physical meetings got even smaller and shorter in 2011, building on a trend in evidence last year.

One measure used to determine if meetings are getting less elaborate is whether they are held at company offices as opposed to off-site.

This year’s study reveals that 94 percent of meetings were held at company offices, compared to 53 percent in the 2010 report.

In further signs of stripped-back meetings, the research notes that nearly 60 percent of clients offered no refreshments at all or only beverages this year, while 72 percent of meetings lasted one hour or less.

‘While this trend might not seem significant, it is evidence of the underlying decline of the physical meeting,’ states the research.

‘It appears that fewer companies are using the meeting as a marketing or public relations tool and that fewer shareholders are making an effort to attend the annual meeting.’

This trend has led to questions about whether the annual meeting will continue in its current form, states BNY Mellon in the study.

The research also finds that annual meetings took place later in the year in 2011, possibly as a result of companies giving themselves time to prepare for the new requirements for say-on-pay votes resulting from the Dodd-Frank Act.

In previous years, most annual meetings held by BNY Mellon clients have taken place in March and April, while this year the majority took place in May.

Overall, the research finds that the introduction of say-on-pay (SOP) and say-when-on-pay votes was largely a ‘non-event’.

‘The degree of shareholder support for executive compensation seen in the SOP votes does lead to the expectation that these votes will become a fairly standard vote with a fairly predictable outcome, similar to director and auditor votes,’ concludes the study.

Click here to access the full report.

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