Manulife IRO feels the Mifid II effect in Europe

Oct 18, 2019
Shareholder targeting takeaways from IR Magazine’s recent think tank in Toronto

The effects of Mifid II have so far been muted in Canada, but speakers at the recent IR Magazine Think Tank – Canada indicated that this could be changing, particularly when it comes to targeting in Europe.

Adrienne O’Neill, global head of investor relations at Manulife, explained that the company has been undertaking efforts to diversify its investor base in Europe and Asia for several years. As a result, she has noticed a difference in how investment banks in Europe are able to support Manulife’s targeting and engagement efforts.

‘We were recently marketing in Frankfurt. I looked at the list of investors we were meeting with and noticed that our largest investor wasn’t on the schedule. When I asked the bank about this, it said it didn’t have a relationship with [the investor],’ O’Neill told attendees at IR Magazine’s event.

She added that the banks she works with in Europe are now actively encouraging her to share a target list so they can tell her the meetings they can and can’t schedule, enabling her to then reach out directly to investors and targets if needed. This is consistent with the collaborative approach outlined at the recent IR Magazine Think Tank in Palo Alto.

O’Neill explained that she now ranks her targets in tiers of importance – from platinum to gold, silver and bronze – to help the banks she partners with better understand her priorities.

These comments were echoed by Jenni Piette, head of investor relations at GT Gold Corp. ‘We’re all being asked to work harder,’ she said. When building out her IR calendar, Piette said she focuses on the conferences she knows she wants to have a presence at, and then looks for opportunities to build in extra meetings or mini-roadshows in the same location.

‘I do a lot of conference research, so I can make sure I know who is attending and who I will be meeting with,’ Piette said. ‘I can say no to conferences, or I can add my own additional meetings around them.’

Changes to shareholder targeting

O’Neill added that Manulife’s investors are increasingly open to being targeted in new ways. One example she cited is investors’ openness to virtual meetings, which they see as an improvement on phone calls. Earlier this year at IR Magazine’s forum in Toronto, both the TMX Group and OTC Markets discussed how the tide is turning on virtual meetings.

O’Neill also explained that investors in Europe – ‘the really big names’ – are now more open to IR-only meetings, based on her experience of marketing there.

Brian Smith, who recently joined Rose & Co as a managing director after spending almost 30 years on the sell side at Barclays and RBC Capital Management, said IR-only meetings can increasingly be effective ways to explore new roadshow destinations without the risk of taking a CEO or CFO along for the trip.

‘There’s definitely a place for [IR-only meetings],’ he said. ‘Especially if you’ve targeted a secondary market, they can be very helpful.’

The panel agreed that increasingly IR teams are expected to be subject-matter experts, not just on their company’s story and financials but also on their competitors, their industry and – sometimes – relevant political or regulatory issues.  

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