This blog gives you the latest topical news plus some informal comments on them from ShareSoc’s directors and other contributors. These are the personal comments of the authors and not necessarily the considered views of ShareSoc. The writers may hold shares in the companies mentioned. You can add your own comments on the blog posts, but note that ShareSoc reserves the right to remove or edit comments where they are inappropriate or defamatory.

Accessing Virtual Shareholder Meetings

It is an unfortunate feature of Covid regulations that many companies have used the waivers contained in those regs to avoid meeting with their shareholders at AGMs.

It is therefore gratifying to see that some companies are at least making some effort to provide a virtual forum to meet investors.

Two companies that I follow which have offered such forums are the RIT Capital Partners investment trust (RCP) and AstraZeneca (AZN). Unfortunately, however, there is a snag. RCP say:

You will be able to listen to the Annual General Meeting remotely by phone or online using your Shareholder Reference Number and your unique Confirmation Code on your enclosed Form of Proxy. In addition to the formal business of the Annual General Meeting, there will be a short presentation given by the Executive Committee of our Manager, J. Rothschild Capital Management Limited, and shareholders may submit questions to the Board and also to the Manager in advance of the meeting by sending an email to: InvestorRelations@ritcap.co.uk.

and AZN say:

Pre-General Meeting shareholder engagement event

21. On 30 April 2021 at 2:00 p.m. BST, the Company will live-broadcast online a presentation from certain
members of the Board and invite shareholders to participate in a live Q&A session should they wish to
do so.

Accessing the event website

The shareholder engagement event can be accessed online using most well-known internet browsers such as
Internet Explorer (not compatible with versions 10 and below), Edge, Chrome, Firefox and Safari on a PC,
laptop or internet-enabled device such as a tablet or smartphone. If you wish to access the event, please go to
https://web.lumiagm.com on the day.

Logging in

On accessing the website, you will be asked to enter a Meeting ID which is 145-523-877. You will then be
prompted to enter your unique SRN and PIN which is the first two and last two digits of your SRN. These can
be found printed on your Form of Proxy. Access to the meeting via the website will be available from
1.00 p.m. on 30 April 2021.

(AZN are exemplary, arranging their event sufficiently in advance of the AGM to allow shareholders to cast their votes having heard answers to questions at the engagement event).

The problem is that shareholders whose shares are held in nominee account (i.e. most individual investors) will not have SRNs and so will not be able to access these events directly. As I wish to attend these events, I contacted both companies to find out how beneficial shareholders could attend these events.

This turned out to be more straightforward with RCP than AZN. In the former case, RCP just asked me to provide evidence of my shareholding. I sent them a copy of my investment account statement and they responded with a confirmation code allowing me to access their online AGM.

I received the following response from AZN’s registrars:

In order to participate in the Shareholder Engagement Event on 30th April, you will need to request that your nominee/broker appoints you as a corporate representative. Once the valid appointment had been made/received we will then issue the SRN and PIN required to participate. Access to the event will be available from 1.00pm on 30th April.

I have therefore had to contact my broker (Interactive Investor) and ask them to make the necessary appointment. They have responded that they will do so and provide me with access details. Hopefully I will get them in time.

This is another egregious example of how shareholders with shares held in nominee accounts are disadvantaged relative to those whose shares are directly held, with the latter option now becoming increasingly difficult and expensive for individual investors. Of course, those with shares in ISAs and SIPPs have no choice but to hold their shares in nominee accounts.

Readers may be interested in attending the forthcoming free ShareSoc information event on voting at AGMs and how to make your vote count. The event takes place on 10th May at 10am. You can register to attend here: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/3116190001784/WN_v6YIZjCAQCaTZNtSEk1eiQ

Mark Bentley, Director, ShareSoc

DISCLOSURE: I hold shares in RCP and AZN

4 Comments
  1. Toby Keynes says:

    I’ve just participated online in the SEGRO AGM.
    The good news is that according to the company secretary 400 of SEGRO’s private shareholders (including me) were able to participate via Primary Bid in last year’s large fundraising – far more than I’d expected given that there was only a two-hour window for this.
    The board say they’ll continue to look at ways to improve access for its private shareholders to future fundraisings.

    The bad news: according to the Company Secretary, apart from board members only 4 shareholders were attending the AGM online; compared to the usual 30 or 35 that they expect for their physical AGMs.

    Why so very low?

    I wonder if this is purely because, as Mark Bentley suggests, the mechanisms for shareholders in nominee to participate are just too cumbersome, and the numbers of on-register shareholders are falling rapidly.

    I can well believe this, but I’d welcome any other ideas.

  2. Stephen Burke says:

    I managed to get ii to get a code for me to join an agm (Polar Tech I think) and it worked, but I got the impression that both ii and the company were somewhat making it up as they went along. As it becomes more routine I assume it will get easier.

  3. Roger Lawson says:

    Toby: the problem with attendance at the Segro AGM was undoubtedly because there were several other AGMs scheduled for the same day (and same time in the case of Alliance Trust).

  4. Mark Bentley says:

    I’d just like to follow-up on my original post, with the ultimate outcomes:

    Joining the RCP AGM was smooth – but only questions submitted in advance were answered.

    AZN was much more problematic. ii duly responded with an LoR which I forwarded to Equiniti – but I heard nothing further. ii invited me to follow-up if I had any problems, which I did yesterday (ahead of today’s meeting). They then advised that Equiniti had sent joining details to them rather than me and they provided those details to me. I tried to join the online event (at 1:30pm, ahead of the 2pm start time) and found that the software rejected the details supplied. I then emailed & phoned Equiniti. In the nick of time they called me back and advised that they had made some amendments, after which the provided details did indeed allow me to login.

    Once logged in, the meeting was well worth it. I was able to ask questions both before and in the meeting. These were duly read out and answered by the board. Apart from the difficulty of gaining access to the meeting, it was otherwise exemplary, being well in advance of the AGM & EGM (re the Alexion acquisition), meaning that shareholders have time to consider answers to questions before submitting their vote instructions.

    My experience illustrates the importance of opposing resolutions to reduce the standard 21 day notice for general meeting to 14 days. Given the difficulties nominee shareholders experience, having the maximum advance notice of meetings is essential.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

join sharesoc

Get more stuff

Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

Other Blog Posts