The Shareholder Forum

supporting investor interests in long term enterprise value

 

Purpose & History of Services

The Shareholder Forum

The Shareholder Forum supports investor interests in corporate enterprise value with services that require independence – and that may benefit from the Forum’s network resources and recognition for advocacy of long term investor interests – to assure a definition of relevant issues and fair access to information that can be relied upon by both corporate and investor decision-makers.

The policies that provide a foundation for the Forum’s marketplace functions have been carefully developed and tested to allow any investor to participate in its communications, either anonymously or visibly, without acting in concert. Established originally to accommodate professional fund managers, this independent moderator function has proved to be consistently effective in managing orderly processes of issue definition for rational analysis by fiduciaries who are responsible for informed decisions.

Initiated in 1999 by the New York Society of Security Analysts with lead investor and former corporate investment banker Gary Lutin as guest chairman to address the professional interests of its members, and independently supported by Mr. Lutin since 2001, Forum programs have achieved wide recognition for their effective definition of important issues and orderly exchange of the information and views needed to resolve them. The Forum's ability to convene all key decision-making constituencies and influence leaders has been applied to subjects ranging from corporate control contests to the establishment of consensus marketplace standards for fair disclosure, and has been relied upon by virtually every major U.S. fund manager and the many other investors who have participated in programs that addressed their interests.

Currently important applications of the Forum’s independent position include the support of corporate managers who wish to provide the leadership expected of them by responding to activist challenges with orderly reviews of issues relevant to long term investor interests.

Requests for Shareholder Forum consideration of support may be initiated confidentially by any investor or by the subject company, or by the professional advisors to either.

 

IR Magazine, March 3, 2010 article

 

Poor take-up of electronic voting

Mar 03, 2010

But DIRK survey shows IROs’ overall mood improving

German issuers are cautious about adopting electronic voting and online annual meetings, according to the findings of new research from
DIRK, the German investor relations association.

The caution exists despite moves by European politicians to encourage electronic shareholder communications at the annual meeting. Last year saw the deadline for the implementation of the Shareholder Rights Directive, which expressly permits companies to use electronic voting and meetings.

DIRK’s survey finds 75 percent of respondents are not considering allowing electronic voting this year. By contrast, just 3 percent have permitted it and a further 23 percent are considering the option for the future (figures have been rounded).

‘The reticence among German companies to implement electronic voting does not come as much of a surprise,’ comments Bernhard Wolf, president of DIRK and head of corporate communications at GfK, the market research group that conducted the survey on behalf of DIRK.

‘Although the legislature has put the necessary framework in place, the problem lies in the implementation. A veritable culture of dispute has developed in Germany, especially among the prominent and major DAX companies: the greater the extent to which a minority escalates an issue during an annual general meeting, the greater the number of column inches dedicated to that company.

‘The grounded discussion preferred by the board of management and the majority of the shareholders is thus often overlooked. In this sort of environment, companies are unwilling to take any risks, for fear of opening themselves up to further objections and actions for annulment.’

Online meetings are also failing to take off. Only a quarter of respondents plan to broadcast their annual meeting over the internet to the public, finds DIRK. Bigger companies are at least showing strong interest in this area, with 75 percent of DAX companies considering taking this step.

The survey notes, however, that broadcasts that take place usually only contain speeches from the chairmen of the management and supervisory boards, while the general discussion and voting ‘are seldom broadcast’.

DIRK conducts its survey – called the sentiment indicator – twice a year to measure sentiment among IROs across Germany, Austria and Switzerland as well as gauge feelings on key issues.

This spring’s results offer some encouragement for the future. The indicator’s primary aim is to ascertain how positive issuers are about the present and future situation and this latest indicator sees an improvement in sentiment for the second consecutive year. This follows a steep decline in sentiment that began in 2007 and continued until spring 2009.

The survey also asked some more specific questions, which further reveal the optimistic mood among many IROs. The proportion of German companies expecting to make cuts to their IR teams fell to 5 percent, in line with the long-term average and down from 10 percent in the autumn 2009 survey. In addition, the number of issuers predicting a drop in the number of IR-related events fell to 6 percent, which is way down from the 24 percent that expected cuts this time last year.

Finally, the number of companies anticipating a fall in analyst coverage dropped for the fourth consecutive survey: three quarters of respondents expect coverage to remain stable during the first half of 2010.

The DIRK sentiment indicator is based on a poll of 460 IR departments in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Response rates usually stand at around 50 percent, according to DIRK. 

By
Tim Human

 

 

 

 

Inquiries, requests to be included in email distribution lists, and suggestions of new Forum subjects may be addressed to inquiry@shareholderforum.com.

Publicly open programs of the Shareholder Forum are conducted for free participation of all shareholders of a subject company and any fiduciaries or professionals concerned with their decisions, according to the Forum’s stated "Conditions of Participation." In all cases, each participant is expected to make independent use of information obtained through the Forum, and participation is considered private unless the party specifically authorizes identification.

The information provided to Forum participants is intended for their private reference, and permission has not been granted for the republishing of any copyrighted material. The material presented on this web site is the responsibility of Gary Lutin, as chairman of the Shareholder Forum.

Shareholder Forum™ is a trademark owned by The Shareholder Forum, Inc., for the programs conducted since 1999 to support investor access to decision-making information. It should be noted that we have no responsibility for the services that Broadridge Financial Solutions, Inc., introduced for review in the Forum's 2010 "E-Meetings" program and has since been offering with the “Shareholder Forum” name, and we have asked Broadridge to use a different name that does not suggest our support or endorsement.