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JSE launches virtual AGMs - historic first for SA

Security officers walk past the JSE in Sandton, South Africa. The JSE says the launch of the virtual AGM platform comes at a time where business continuity is paramount to ensuring the running of the South African economy. Photo: Reuters

Security officers walk past the JSE in Sandton, South Africa. The JSE says the launch of the virtual AGM platform comes at a time where business continuity is paramount to ensuring the running of the South African economy. Photo: Reuters

Published Mar 31, 2020

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JOHANNESBURG - The JSE on Monday announced a historic first - virtual annual general meetings ( AGMs) in South Africa with Alexander Forbes slated be the maiden firm to host a fully remote and web-based shareholder meeting.

This after several companies - including:Anglo American Platinum, Royal Bafokeng Platinum, Glencore, AYO Technology Solutions,  SAB Zenzele and JSE Limited - were forced 

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to postponed their AGMs due to the covid-19 crises, which precludes social gatherings.

The JSE said it had partnered with The Meeting Specialist (TMS) to launch the first virtual AGMs in South Africa to enable clients to engage with shareholders.  

AGMs are a mandatory yearly gathering of a company's interested shareholders where the directors of the company present an annual report containing information for shareholders about the company's performance and strategy.

"As an essential service, the JSE plays a key role in maintaining the South African capital markets infrastructure and enabling economic momentum. The launch of the virtual AGM platform comes at a time where business continuity is paramount to ensuring the running of the SA economy, " the JSE said.

Ursula du Plooy, the head of Issuer Relations and Company Services at the JSE, said: “We find ourselves in unprecedented times and that has encouraged businesses to be agile and innovative in their approach.”

The stock exchange said  the platform catered for virtual AGMs and electronic voting, and also allowed participants to connect from any location in the world using smart devices. 

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When conducting the AGM, the TMS would ensure a concise record of all attendees, secure auditing and provide technical support.

Valdene Reddy,  a director of JSE Capital Markets, said: “Our listed companies still need to engage with their shareholders and hold AGM’s, finding enabling solutions for our clients is a key focus for us and our ‘new normal’ has led us to introducing this new offering, proof that inclusivity and sustainable ways of working is achievable."

The JSE said the virtual  AGMs were cost-effective  and aligned with  implementing business continuity measures during this period where physical meetings were  not possible.

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The platform would also accommodate as many participants as possible while allowing screen sharing. 

"This virtual offering accommodates both participants who are connecting electronically and those attending the AGM physically. The JSE will continue to offer this service even after the Covid-19 crisis, as it is a great platform for engaging with stakeholders, the JSE said.

The JSE said the upcoming general meeting for Alexander Forbes shareholders on Tuesday had been moved to a virtual meeting platform facilitated by the JSE and TMS which provides an electronic engagement including voting  enabled by an offshore service provider. 

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“While we believe that virtual meetings will in due course become widely accepted, or at least become a routine adjunct to conventional meetings as this is where the future of doing business is heading to, the immediate availability of this service is particularly relevant in today's volatile economic climate,” said  Carina Wessels, executive governance, legal and compliance at Alexander Forbes.

BUSINESS REPORT 

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