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‘Hungry’ shareholders at listed company AGMs

Shareholders arriving for the AGM of a listed company

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One would think Malaysia is a famine-struck nation, observes Benedict Lopez, after witnessing what happened at the AGM of a listed company he attended.

Listed companies are required to hold annual general meetings (AGMs).

Sometimes, for justified reasons, a company is required to hold an extraordinary general meeting. An extraordinary meeting is held when a company needs to put forward urgent proposals to shareholders which require immediate attention.

Many responsible shareholders attend AGMs to listen to the company chairman, chief executive officer or managing director present an overview of the firm’s performance over the previous year. Occasionally, other senior company staff highlight matters of interest about the company.

I attend the AGMs of certain listed companies because I feel morally obligated to exercise my duty as a shareholder and highlight pertinent issues, if necessary. I have been impressed by some minority shareholders who ask questions or highlight important matters on behalf of their fellow shareholders.

But AGMs are marred by the presence of some shareholders who just come to register their attendance, collect their gifts, have their refreshments and immediately make a beeline for the exit.

Many also exhibit appalling behaviour when food is available. Some bring tiffin carriers and plastic boxes to collect as much food as possible, denying other shareholders these refreshments.

At one AGM last year, a few shareholders in the buffet queue were filling up their plastic containers with as much food as possible. Even when there was a refill by the hotel staff, the same thing happened. Such behaviour is uncivilised.

Observing these shareholders, one would think Malaysia is a famine-struck nation!

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Listed companies should stop providing door gifts and serving refreshments during AGMs, and instead increase the dividend payout. This will curb such unbecoming conduct among shareholders.

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Benedict Lopez was director of the Malaysian Investment Development Authority in Stockholm and economics counsellor at the Malaysian embassy there in 2010-2014. He covered all five Nordic countries in the course of his work. A pragmatic optimist and now an Aliran member, he believes Malaysia can provide its people with the same benefits and privileges found in the Nordic countries - not a far-fetched dream but one that he hopes will be realised in his lifetime
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