Link Group Facilitates The First Fully Virtual Shareholder Meeting In ANZ
27 March 2020: Link Group (ASX: LNK) has today announced it has successfully facilitated the first ever fully virtual shareholder meeting in Australia and New Zealand, after it yesterday successfully managed a Special Meeting for Evolve Education (NZE: EVO).
The meeting, which shareholders and directors were unable to physically attend due to New Zealand entering the first day of its nationwide lockdown in response to COVID-19, is a milestone in the transition towards digital meeting technology that has occurred in recent years, and is likely to drastically accelerate as a result of the pandemic.
The virtual meeting was conducted using Link Group’s bespoke virtual meeting technology, which has previously been rolled out at hybrid (enabling physical and digital participation) meetings and AGMs across Australia and New Zealand.
Managing Director of Link Market Services New Zealand, Marcelle Ashcroft, hailed the meeting’s success as what is likely to be the first of many virtual meetings in coming months.
“I’d like to congratulate the Link Group team in New Zealand for achieving this significant milestone, and Evolve Education for being the first to take the leap into fully virtual shareholder meetings,” Ms Ashcroft said.
Link Group Corporate Markets Co-CEO, Lysa McKenna said: “The ascent of hybrid shareholder meetings in recent years utilising our technology has been a positive trend for shareholder engagement and good corporate governance. As governments and businesses respond to the COVID-19 to ensure the health and safety of its people, it is clear that digital meeting technology is now more crucial than ever before. It is an essential tool for business continuity.”
Evolve Education’s Directors attended the meeting remotely from four different countries, while shareholders also remotely participated in the meeting, including by asking questions and using the electronic voting function to vote on resolutions, all within a single platform.
Despite New Zealand being in a state of emergency, 1.6 per cent of shareholders on Evolve Education’s register attended the meeting, greatly exceeding the average attendance recorded in Link Group’s recent AGM Snapshot report of just 0.2 per cent in Australia, suggesting the technology may play an essential role in improving investor engagement.
ASIC announced last week that as a response to COVID-19, it intends to take a no action position on non-compliance with provisions of the Corporations Act that may restrict the holding of virtual AGMs, where an entity elects to hold a virtual AGM in order to comply with the statutory 31 May 2020 deadline or during the recently announced extension period.
Link Group’s digital meeting technology has been utilised in recent years by both listed and unlisted companies, as well as member organisations, and can be utilised by any organisation with a voter database.
In 2019, a record number of shareholders of ASX and NZX companies voted on AGM resolutions through Link Group’s digital meeting technology. Link Group also helped A2 Milk set a new record for online AGM participation for Australia and New Zealand, with 528 people digitally participating.