The Shareholder Forum

supporting investor access

for the informed use of capital to produce goods and services

 

The Shareholder Forum

Purpose

The Shareholder Forum provides all decision-makers – from the ultimate owners of capital to the corporate managers who use their capital, and all of the professionals in between – with reliably effective access to the information and views participants consider relevant to their respective responsibilities for the common objective of using capital to produce goods and services.

Access Policies

To provide the required investor access without regulatory constraints, the Forum developed policies and practices allowing it to function as an SEC-defined independent moderator. We also adopted well-established publishing standards to assure essential participant privacy and communication rights.

These carefully defined and thoroughly tested Forum policies are the foundation of our unique marketplace resource for clearly fair access to information and exchanges of views.

History

We have been doing this for more than two decades. The Forum programs were initiated in 1999 by the CFA Society New York (at the time known as 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 the Society’s members.

Independently supported by Mr. Lutin since 2001, the Forum’s public programs – often in collaboration with the CFA Society as well as with other educational institutions such as the Columbia Schools of Business and Journalism, the Yale School of Management and The Conference Board – have achieved wide recognition for their effective definition of both company-specific and marketplace issues, followed by an 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.

Commitment

The Forum welcomes suggestions for its continuing support of fair access to the information needed by both shareholders and corporate managers.

Responding to the recent increases in investor engagement and activism, we have established a strong policy commitment to supporting corporate managers who wish to provide the leadership expected of them by assuring orderly reviews of issues. We will of course also continue to welcome the initiation of company-specific programs by shareholders concerned with the use of their capital to produce goods and services, and we naturally remain committed to addressing general marketplace interests in collaboration with educational institutions and publishers.

 

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 had been offering for several years with the “Shareholder Forum” name, and we have asked Broadridge to use a different name that does not suggest our support or endorsement.