Coronavirus Increases Interest in Virtual Shareholder Meetings

March 12, 2020

Virtual shareholder meetings continue to rise in popularity, with interest recently reaching fever pitch due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). According to updated facts and figures recently released by Broadridge Financial Solutions, Inc. (Broadridge), 326 companies held virtual meetings in 2019, a 15 percent increase over 2018.

Some of the most noteworthy statistics in Broadridge’s report on virtual meetings held in 2019 are:

  • 92 percent were virtual-only meetings, of which 97 percent were conducted with live audio and three percent used live video.
  • 56 percent of the companies holding virtual meetings were small-cap, 27 percent were mid-cap and 17 percent were large-cap.
  • 96 percent of companies allowed questions to be submitted online during the live meeting, 16 percent collected questions online in advance of the meeting and 3 percent allowed live phone line questions during the meeting.

With 2020’s proxy season underway, Reuters reports that more U.S. companies are moving their annual shareholder meetings online to help contain the spread of COVID-19. Even if your company has already mailed proxy materials to shareholders, it is likely not too late to switch to a virtual-only format. In most cases, issuing a press release disclosing the change in format and filing it with the SEC as supplemental proxy materials will satisfy applicable legal requirements, though state law and company bylaws must also be checked.

For advice on effecting a last-minute switch to a virtual format for your upcoming shareholder meeting, contact a member of Fredrikson & Byron’s Public Companies Group.

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