Portfolio

Look forward to investor-friendly AGMs this season

Parvatha Vardhini C BL Research Bureau | Updated on June 24, 2020 Published on June 24, 2020

The shareholder’s voice can now be louder, thanks to e-meetings and e-voting

The AGM (Annual General Meeting) season is upon us once again. While time, distance and monetary constraints might have prevented shareholders from actively attending AGMs in the past, this year promises a change. Thanks to Covid-19, AGMs are being held only through video-conferencing, at least until the situation normalises across the country. Besides, resolutions are also put up online for remote e-voting ( i.e. e-voting away from the venue of the AGM). Thus as a shareholder, you can exercise your right to attend AGMs, ask questions and vote on company actions sitting in the comfort of your home. This is a chance to actively participate.

Process

To prevent non-delivery due to lockdown or due to short staffing at postal/courier services, notice for the AGM is being sent by e-mail to all shareholders. The notice gives out detailed instructions on remote e-voting, the window for which opens up before the date of the AGM. For instance, for the Infosys AGM coming up on June 27, the e-voting period commenced on June 22 at 9 am and ends on June 26 at 5 pm.

E-voting platforms for companies are being provided by two depository participants (DPs) — NSDL (National Securities Depository Limited) at https://www.evoting.nsdl.com/ and CDSL (Central Depository Services Limited) at https://www.evotingindia.com/. To participate, you will have to log into the relevant DP platform (mentioned in the notice) for each of the companies whose shares you hold.

Irrespective of the platform you are logging on to, if your demat account is with NSDL, your user ID will be your 8-digit DP ID followed by an 8-digit client ID. Alternatively, if you have a CDSL demat account, it will be the 16 digit beneficiary ID. For the password, if you have already registered for e-voting earlier (possible, for instance, if you have voted on postal ballots which are conducted through remote e-voting) you can use the same password. Else, you would have received an email from the DP on the password, which you can look up. Choices to set password using the ‘forgot password’ option as well as email/ mobile number-based OTP are also available. Once you enter, you will be able to view the list of companies (in which you are a shareholder) whose voting windows are open. You can either vote on all or only select resolutions. Once submitted, you cannot change your preference.

E-AGMs, too, can be accessed through the webpages of NSDL or CDSL in a similar manner. If you wish to express your views or ask questions, you will need to register yourself as a speaker by putting out a request to the company before the AGM. Only those shareholders who are pre-registered will be allowed to express their views during the meeting.

Advantages

E-meetings and remote e-voting ensure greater participation of shareholders (especially the minority and small shareholders), making wafer-thin attendance at AGMs a thing of the past. Shareholders can attend as many meetings as they wish to, without having to spend on travel, boarding and lodging expenses; the company need not hire auditoriums or spend on lavish food and takeaway gifts.

Remote e-voting is a superior option to passing resolutions at meetings by ‘show of hands’ or providing an e-voting facility at the venue of the AGM. In remote e-voting, all shareholders get to vote. It also takes into account the ‘one-share, one-vote’ principle. For e-meetings, since investors can send out their questions in advance, the management gets enough time to give well-researched/ well-thought out responses.

Points to note

While virtual meetings and voting ensure greater participation, there are a few points to be kept in mind. One, e-meetings eliminate the need for appointment of proxies by retail shareholders. Usually, you can appoint proxies to attend meetings on your behalf, if you are unable to. Two, if shares are held jointly, only the first holder is allowed to vote. Three, if you have missed the remote e-voting window, you have another opportunity to e-vote during the AGM. But if you vote during the meeting without attending the meeting per se, your vote will be considered invalid.

If you have already done the e-voting before the AGM, you can attend the meeting but will not have the right to vote. Four, for the e-meeting and e-voting process to work smoothly, your email must be registered with the DP. You can get in touch with the company’s investor relations team or with the helpdesk of the DP to update. Five, even if you hold physical shares and do not have a DP ID, you can still participate in e-meetings and e-voting by following the instructions laid out in the notice.

Published on June 24, 2020
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