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Annual General Meetings Through Video Conferencing

Introduction

Listed companies in India are mandated to conduct Annual General Meetings at the end of every financial year. Annual General Meetings provide an opportunity for the Board Members to meet the investors and take the necessary inputs required for the prospects of the company.

The Company calls for the Annual General Meeting through notice of the annual general meeting. The investors are notified about the dates for the annual general meeting much in advance. The notices are sent to the members through registered email and the registered postal address available with the Company.

Further notice to the annual general meetings is also notified to the investors through the newspaper advertisements in the regional and leading national newspapers in advance. The advertisements carry a brief outline about the meeting, resolutions, e-voting notification, and venue for the annual general meeting. The meetings usually take place at the headquarters or the registered office of the company. As also the meetings may take place at any designated venue to hold large gatherings within the city of registered office.

Annual General Meetings through Video Conference Mode

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, annual general meetings in the physical mode were affected. The Hon’ble Ministry then issued a regulation for smooth conduct of annual general meetings through video conferencing or other audio-visual means i.e. (VC or OAVM). The process of holding annual general meetings since then has been a smooth affair for the companies. Under this arrangement, the companies will send a notification to join the video conference through the registered email address of the investors. The investors then can join the video conference through the link and participate in the meeting. The investors also have an opportunity to ask questions related to the annual general meeting either during the video conference or at the end of the video conference.

Conducting annual general meetings is a boon for companies in an era of technological revolution and digital transformation. It has helped the companies to save many costs incurred otherwise to conduct physical meetings. The annual general meetings through video conferences have also helped both the investors and the companies inch closer towards transparency and achieve the mandate under corporate governance standards. Almost all the companies have now switched to annual general meetings through video conference mode and this has helped them to achieve sustainability under the ambit of corporate governance.

The facility for a live webcast of meetings is also arranged through online mode as per the mandate by the Securities Exchange Board of India or SEBI. As per the mandate top, 100 listed companies based on market capitalization should arrange for the live webcast of annual general meetings. The mandate is a positive step that helps the companies to contribute to carbon offsetting and ensure smooth and transparent annual general meetings. It will also cut down costs involved to travel to the venue and instead attend the annual general meetings through a virtual mode.

E-Voting Process

During a video conference in the annual general meeting, the investor gets an opportunity to meet the other investors of the company and also pose questions to the Board of Directors related to the Annual Report and other statements. The Board of Directors passes many important resolutions subject to approval by the investors of the company.

The process is held much in advance through e-voting. E-Voting is a simple process to vote in favor of or against or abstain from the decisions made by the Board of Directors. E-Voting is preceded by the postal ballot process which otherwise entailed the investors to cast their vote through ballot papers and drop it in the dropbox prior to the commencement of the Annual General Body meeting. E-voting is available to the investors usually for a period of thirty days or as per the timeline stipulated by the Companies Act 2013.

E-voting facility is usually managed by the state-owned National Securities Depositaries Limited or Central Depository Services India Limited or any other entity to manage the process of e-voting. An investor is provided with the id and password through a simple registration process on any of the portals. E-voting window is provided exclusively for the benefit of investors who possess a valid email address as registered with the company or depository participant.

Common Etiquette During the Video Conference

Investors form an important part of the company’s growth and success. Investors have the right to ask questions at an appropriate time and through the right channels. Annual general meetings as explained earlier provide an opportunity for the investors to interact with the management and the Board of Directors through a common forum. The forum is also an opportunity for the company to gain necessary inputs and incorporate the same upon the feasibility.

The below are some of the common etiquettes’ investors may follow while attending the annual general meetings

  • Make sure to register your email address and postal address to receive timely communication from the Company. You may reach to helpdesk set up at the venue to update your contact details
  • Annual Reports and other financial statements are distributed much in advance to the investors. It is essential to go through the report in detail and prepare any questions based on the same.
  • Do not use the forum to pose any questions which are not related to the annual report or financial statements. You may use another appropriate forum at a right time to express your views
  • If your question is already asked by another investor, refrain from posing the same question to the panel
  • Always be clear with your question and pose the question in the shortest possible way. As the annual general meeting is a large gathering of many investors, a lengthy question posed otherwise will hinder time for other activities during the meeting.


Attended the Annual General Meeting

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

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