Dividend is passé; shareholders now want gold coins and gift vouchers

K RAM KUMAR SURESH IYENGAR Mumbai | Updated on January 17, 2018


Some want foreign trips, bonus shares and medical expenses recompensed

Gone are the days when shareholders attending Annual General Meetings went away happy with dividend announcements combined with the tea and snacks served at the venue.

Now the demands range from gold coins, gift vouchers, special dividends and even foreign trips.

Take the AGM conducted by HDFC Bank this week, for instance. Shareholders pressed the board to know about the plans for celebrating the bank’s silver jubilee.

While one wanted to know whether issue of bonus shares is being considered to mark the occasion, another felt that gold coins with the HDFC Bank logo embossed on them would be a fitting memento for the shareholders.

Another shareholder said the bank should take cues from a public sector bank, which gifted umbrellas to its shareholders despite the market regulator prohibiting gifting.

There was also a demand that the bank take a leaf out of a large cooperative bank’s book and introduce a scheme for reimbursement of medical expenses of shareholders.

Marriage invitation

A woman shareholder at JSW Energy’s recent AGM said she considered the company’s Chairman Sajjan Jindal her brother and was upset that he did not invite her to his son’s marriage in Vienna.

“If I had got the invite I would have travelled on my own expense. It is okay this time you forgot your sister but please remember me next time. Raksha bandhan is also coming,” she said. Shareholders at HUL’s AGM demanded vouchers and gift hampers. Many were annoyed that the company has not acted on its earlier demand of organising annual factory visits.

While some of these shareholders requested the company board not be ‘shocked’ with their demands, the responses from some of the companies were witty.

HUL’s Harish Manwani said the company would be happy if shareholders actually buy its products instead of asking for gift vouchers.

Aditya Puri, MD & CEO, HDFC Bank, deflected the hot-button question on bonus shares with practiced finesse: “I think the Chairman will answer.” Puri quickly added that it is the prerogative of the board to take a call in this regard. Chairperson Shyamala Gopinath’s response was measured. She only said: “I have heard all of you….”

Perhaps, promoters need to be more careful next time they say “your company has performed well.”

With additional inputs from Priyanka Pani

Published on July 24, 2016

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