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Mar 30, 2020

DIRK cancels annual conference due to Covid-19 disruption

Association says it is unclear whether event would be allowed to go ahead as planned

DIRK, the German investor relations association, has announced the cancellation of its annual conference due to the ongoing disruption caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

The conference, due to be held this year on June 8-9, is the association’s main annual event and normally attracts around 400 IROs. 

‘This decision was not an easy one for us because we put a lot of time and passion into the organization every year and are convinced of the added value of the conference for the financial community,’ notes the statement.

‘But we are equally convinced that a conference cannot generate this added value, or cannot generate it satisfactorily, under the given circumstances.’ The statement adds that it is not clear whether the event would even be allowed to go ahead in June. 

Germany, like most other developed countries, has largely shut down public life in a bid to contain the spread of Covid-19. Over the weekend, Helge Braun, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff, said in a newspaper interview that the country would not consider easing restrictions until at least April 20. 

The lockdowns across Europe have led to the cancellation or postponement of many financial and business conferences, while others have been turned into virtual-only events. Last week, US IR association NIRI decided to postpone its annual conference, with an eye to holding it in early December.

Kay Bommer, general manager of DIRK, says the decision has been taken to cancel rather than postpone the conference for a variety of reasons. 

‘In Autumn there will be so many meetings and conferences as people try to catch up,’ he tells IR Magazine. ‘Plus we have our members meeting on October 1-2 anyway, which is not the same as the flagship event and is members only, but it still gets the crowds together.’

DIRK hopes to still make use of the content developed for the conference in other ways, says Bommer. For example, the association is planning to start hosting webinars that could focus on conference themes. It may also move some sessions to its October event or next year’s flagship conference. 

In addition, DIRK hopes to publish articles written by people lined up to speak at the conference, such as Friedrich Merz, a politician and former chairman of the supervisory board at BlackRock Germany who is in the running to be Germany’s next chancellor.

The cancelled conference was due to focus on ESG issues, with the strapline of the event – ‘Markets for future!’ – borrowed from the FridaysforFuture movement launched by teenage environmental campaigner Greta Thunberg.