Virtual, hybrid AGMs here to stay

PETALING JAYA: High dependence on technology tools and solutions will continue to characterise the approaches public listed companies (PLCs) use to engage with their shareholders even as Malaysia transitions towards the endemic phase, according to KPMG.

It pointed out that demand for modern technology solutions comes directly from the shareholders themselves as a Securities Commission of Malaysia (SC) survey found at least 74% of shareholders indicated their preference of a remote option for general meetings even after social distancing is no longer mandatory.

KPMG Malaysia head of board advisory services Kasturi Nathan (pix) remarked that with health and safety an ongoing concern, it would be remiss for listed companies not to consider permanently incorporating virtual or hybrid AGM as part of their corporate governance strategy.

“Progressive companies that have done so attest to have experienced a ‘turbocharge’ of shareholder participation among the other benefits when hosting virtual AGM.

“The sharp pivot towards virtual AGM became a necessity at the height of the pandemic containment measures in recent years, enabled by the regulatory guide provided in Section 340(2) of the Companies Act 2016 and the SC’s revise Guidance on Virtual Meetings of Listed Issuers,” she said in a statement.

However, Kasturi conceded that the sudden transition has not been without problems, typically caused by a lack of access to the right tools and unfamiliarity of the technology.

Anticipating the digitalisation trend in general meetings, the firm has collaborated with Azeus Group subsidiary Convene Malaysia, where the alliance equips KPMG with exclusive rights in the country to introduce the latter’s ConveneAGM. ConveneAGM is an open platform that can adapt to and accommodate virtual, physical, and hybrid meeting requirements. It can transform how traditional general meetings are carried out while ensuring compliance and preserving stakeholders’ rights.