Computershare: Virtual AGMs remain popular globally despite relaxed restrictions but two out of three still held in-person

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Media Release by Computershare

Fully-virtual shareholder meetings have largely retained their popularity globally among clients during the 2022 AGM season despite the relaxation of restrictions on meeting in person in some jurisdictions, Computershare has revealed.

During the 2022 AGM season, 28.3% of AGMs held around the world by clients of the global issuer services provider have been organized virtually, compared to 30.9% in 2021’s, Computershare said.

Nevertheless, in-person meetings remain the most common among Computershare clients, representing around two-thirds of total meetings held in both the 2021 (67.7%) and 2022 (68.3%) AGM seasons.

Computershare said the figures were drawn from meetings held by clients in six areas: the US, Hong Kong, Canada, Continental Europe, Australia and New Zealand as well as the UK, Channel Islands and Ireland.

Hybrid AGMs – which allow shareholders to attend in person or virtually – experienced
the biggest proportional change, moving from 1.3% to 3.4% of all meetings held

However, the vast majority of this change was experienced in Hong Kong, where the
proportion of AGMs held as hybrids moved from 0.1% to 5.7%, largely as a result of
ongoing pandemic-related restrictions.

“Two years ago, Computershare helped issuers around the world pivot towards hosting
virtual annual meetings to comply with temporary pandemic-related regulations and
safeguard the health and safety of shareholders and stakeholders,” said Naz Sarkar,
Global CEO of Computershare Issuer Services.

“Today, our data suggest that companies in countries where Covid restrictions were
lifted within the first quarter of the year, such as in the US and Continental Europe,
have favored in-person meetings during 2022.”

“Virtual and hybrid meetings were more common among Computershare clients in
regions where Covid-related restrictions were lifted later in the year – including UCIA,
Canada, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand.”

“Notably, we also observed a rising trend of virtual-only meetings amongst recently
listed issuers.”

“Virtual, as well as hybrid meetings, can contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas
emissions, which may become a measurable disclosure for a company’s NetZero

The US
The US experienced a stronger resurgence of in-person meetings than many other
jurisdictions, with the proportion held in a traditional format increasing by 7.0%, the
proportion held fully virtually decreasing by 5.2% and hybrids stopping among
Computershare clients completely.

“In the US, Computershare issuers pivoted back to in-person meetings, especially when
the business could take advantage of an opportunity to showcase its consumer goods
or high-cost equipment, such as farming equipment or truck manufacturers,” said Ann
Bowering, CEO of Computershare Issuer Services in US.

“The ability to show physical products allows issuers to give shareholders specific
insight into the company’s strategic direction.”

Canada broadly moved in the opposite direction, however, seeing a 6.1% decrease in
the proportion of meetings held in person. The market also saw the greatest increase
in the proportion held virtually (5.7%) and a 0.4% increase in those that were held as

“We saw a distinct growth in virtual meetings in the Canadian market this year, which
may indicate a preference for how AGMs are hosted in future years, but it’s too soon to
tell for sure,” said Irfan Motiwala, CEO of Computershare Issuer Services in Canada.

“More companies are beginning to recognize the value of virtual AGMs as they enable a
much broader shareholder engagement opportunity regardless of where they are

Australia and New Zealand
Amongst the markets, the second highest increase in the proportion of meetings held
virtually (2.8%) and as hybrids (2.5%) took place in Australia and New Zealand, where
the AGM season is ongoing.

Virtual meetings have accounted for 45.3% of Computershare’s 2022 client meetings
and hybrid accounted for 6.3%

Nearly half (48.4%) of Computershare client meetings in A&NZ have been held in
person: a 5.3% proportional decrease from 2021.

“With the strict border controls and extended lockdowns during the Covid pandemic in
Australia and New Zealand, companies quickly pivoted to a virtual AGM format with
strong shareholder participation, such as lodging proxy votes,” said Marnie Reid, CEO
of Computershare Issuer Services in Australia and New Zealand.

“Since restrictions have lifted, some companies have elected to return to in-person
meetings, but experienced lower attendance than meetings before the pandemic.
“A significant majority of companies are electing to conduct a hybrid meeting format to
encourage broader participation.”

The United Kingdom, Ireland and the Channel Islands
There was a further move towards hybrid and virtual meetings in the United Kingdom,
Ireland and the Channel Islands, with the proportion being held in person decreasing
by 4.0%.

The percentage held as hybrids across the three jurisdictions experienced the largest
increase outside of Hong Kong (2.9%), with the proportion held virtually also seeing an
increase (1.1%).

“In the UK market, we saw a notable increase in companies adding an element of
electronic engagement into their events,” said Mark Cleland, CEO of Computershare
Issuer Services in the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Channel Islands and South Africa.
“The pre-pandemic trend of allowing pre-submitted questions has continued, and we’re
also seeing shareholders submitting higher volumes of proxy instructions online, which
we expect to continue into 2023 and beyond.”

“UK companies that want to switch permanently to online environments are finding
ways of showing the long-term engagement benefits of online meetings to senior
executives to effect cultural change inside organizations.”

Hong Kong
Hong Kong experienced the second-highest decrease in the proportion of AGMs held in
person (-7.0%) as well as a 1.4% increase in those held virtually.

Nevertheless, with 92.9% of its meetings being held in person, Hong Kong remains the
jurisdiction with the highest proportion of Computershare client AGMs being held in a
traditional format.

The jurisdiction also experienced the largest increase in the percentage of AGMs being
held as a hybrid – although from a very low original position (0.1% to 5.7%).

“We are pleased that many issuers made use of our virtual and hybrid meeting
solutions this year, while others took the ‘wait and see’ approach,” said Richard Houng,
CEO of Computershare Issuer Services in Asia.

“Significantly, more clients chose to combine the benefits of both online and traditional,
in-person meetings by running hybrid meetings, and their popularity may continue to
grow in Hong Kong as they become seen as the ‘new norm’.”

Continental Europe
Continental European countries witnessed the largest increase (18.6%) in the
proportion of meetings held inperson, with the largest difference between 2021 and
2022 (25.2% to 43.8%, respectively).

Despite this change, the proportion of meetings held in person by Computershare’s CE
clients remained lower than anywhere outside of Australia and New Zealand (43%).

“We saw smaller companies in Continental Europe move to physical meetings, while
‘large cap’ companies typically stayed fully virtual or brought in a virtual element,
especially those with an international board,” said Kirsten van Rooijen, CEO of
Computershare Issuer Services in Continental Europe.

“A number of companies still opted for virtual meetings, both as a result of emergency
legislation remaining in place and the fact that they were able to reach their
international shareholder base more easily.”


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