LSE backs moving annual meetings online during epidemic

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen outside the entrance of the London Stock Exchange in London© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen outside the entrance of the London Stock Exchange in London

LONDON (Reuters) – The London Stock Exchange said it would back temporarily allowing companies to hold their annual general meetings (AGM) online this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“London Stock Exchange is engaging with stakeholders on behalf of the issuers listed on its market as to whether the authorities should consider time limited exceptions for companies to have flexibility in how they conduct their AGMs during this period,” the exchange said on Monday.

The Chartered Governance Institute has published guidance on annual meetings during the epidemic, drawn up in conjunction with the Financial Reporting Council, which regulates auditors and corporate governance codes, and law firm Slaughter & May.

Virtual-only meetings are not viable given they may not constitute valid meetings, but the articles of some companies allow them to hold hybrid meetings, meaning a combination of physical and electronic, the guidance said.

“If a company has already issued its AGM notice for a physical-only meeting but its articles allow a hybrid AGM, it can change to a hybrid AGM,” the guidance said.

A change in companies law would might be needed to hold purely electronic annual meetings.

Britain’s business ministry, which is responsible for companies law, had no immediate comment.

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