Elderly shareholders see red at green initiative

T.E. Raja Simhan Swetha Kannan Chennai | Updated on October 13, 2011

Under the ‘green initiative’ of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, annualreports are sent by e-mail, unless a physical copy is demanded.

Since the start of this ‘AGM season', Vidyashankar has had to spend hours in front of the computer, poring over annual reports. The 60-year-old investor has shares in many companies and had not bothered to tell each company that he wanted a physical copy of the annual report — something that he had been getting without asking all these years.

Today, Vidyashankar, like many others, gives vent to his feelings at AGMs vociferously.

Thanks to the ‘green initiative' of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, annual reports are today sent by e-mail, unless a physical copy is demanded. And that has got the shareholders' goat.

Exchanges over e-mailed annual reports, often heated, have become a common feature at AGMs. Shareholders would ask the management to liaise with the government on their behalf and have the offending directive removed and the managements would promise to “take it up with the government”

Visible in all these exchanges is the shareholders' angst. For the elderly shareholder, holding the annual report in the hand is a matter of joy. He needs it to pore over its contents, pick holes in it so that he can stand in front of the mike at the AGM and take the management to task.

The green initiative takes away this pleasure. And the anger comes out seething in irate, sarcastic, polemical words at the meetings.

“I am forced to go to a cyber café at this age to access the annual reports,” said a septuagenarian. “And at the cafe, we are asked several questions to prove our identity.”

“There is hardly any power at home. How can we read the report online?” said one shareholder at an AGM.

“You want us to read your annual report online? Fine, give us laptops,” said another.

“We take print-outs of the report to read it carefully, where is the question of saving paper?” argued another plucky elder.

Several complained that even if they opted for the physical copy, they were not sent any.

Over 5,000 companies are listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange and millions of copies of annual reports are being sent to shareholders each year. An annual report, typically between 70 and100 pages, costs between Rs 10 and Rs 20 to print.

Published on October 04, 2011

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