17 May 2016

Virtual Annual Meeting: the state of art in Italy

Banco Popolare, Telecom Italia, Bper. Chi è all’avanguardia sulle assemblee virtuali, Formiche, Italy

A few weeks before the 2016 shareholders' meeting season, the Financial Times published an article "US companies embrace virtual annual meetings", highlighting the importance of technology in enabling a smooth participation of shareholders in corporate affairs.

Having a look at the data of American companies, processed by Broadridge, we can see an increase in the use of mechanisms of virtual meetings, considered as systems capable of promoting an increase in shareholders' rights and encouraging their participation in company life.

In Italy, at the moment, the virtual AGM is an illusion, with many concerns about legal implications and about the difficulty for the management to manage voting outcomes that would take place "live ". The same conclusion can be reached by analyzing hybrid systems, of which there is no trace in the general meetings of the Italian company .

In other words , there is no possibility for the Italian company's shareholders to interact through remote technology systems in the Italian General meetings: only 15 companies in the FTSE MIB (43%), including Eni, Telecom, Generali and Unicredit, have provided in their charters the possibility for those who have the right to vote to participate in the meeting by teleconference and exercise the voting electronically. Actually this incentive is reduced consistently since, among the 15 companies above, only 3 companies (BPER , Telecom and Banco Popolare) have allowed some form of remote participation to annual general meetings.

Francesco Surace comments the state of art on Formiche.

Topics

General Meetings / Proxy solicitation Governance Italy USA