Annual Shareholders Meetings
Annual shareholder meetings are important events for shareholders of listed and also unlisted companies. In India, every corporation is required to hold an annual stockholders meeting. Even corporations that are not based in India hold these annual meetings. There are several purposes for these meetings:
The focus of the shareholder meetings is the election of the Board of Directors. The board of directors makes many of the decisions of the corporation.
The annual meeting is a chance for the shareholders to review the annual reports. This includes information about the fiscal well-being of the company. If there have been losses or gains, these will be included.
Most companies allow shareholders to vote on certain key issues besides the Board of Directors. Some of the issues include investments and acquisitions of other companies.
The shareholders will get a look at new products or services that will be introduced in the upcoming year.
Planning of Shareholder Meetings
Many corporations have meeting planners on staff or allow their marketing departments to plan these important gatherings. But often the planning is outsourced to a professional company. Some of the special considerations when planning an annual meeting include the corporate climate. Microsoft’s annual meeting no doubt has a different “feel” than the annual meeting for a ‘hip,” youthful company that sells jeans. The corporate climate can affect every aspect of planning the meeting including:
An annual meeting for a conservative company may consist of sitting in a convention hall and voting on corporate matters. Later a formal dinner with a guest speaker may take place. Some companies may create a ‘rock-n-roll’ atmosphere complete with a popular band. The attire may be casual.
Even though it is not popular in this economic climate, many corporations have held their annual meetings in exotic locales like the Bahamas. The shareholders get to vacation and vote on important business. However, most corporations will hold these meetings in the city where the corporate offices are.
Some annual meetings are held over the course of a few days. Some are held on weekends or are limited to just one day. The length of the meeting can determine the accommodations, food options, and other important details.
If you are hired to plan the meeting, you need to find out who is responsible for compiling the annual report. Many corporations look for meeting planners who also have marketing departments that write annual reports. If you are not responsible for the reports, make sure you know who is. You will need to make sure there are plenty of copies available for shareholders and the media.
What type of media coverage is expected? Is there a need to set up a special section for the press? Will there be special invites to the business media? If it is a large corporation, usually the press has an interest in the annual meeting and the naming of the board of directors. Smaller corporations usually send press releases about the new board of directors and the highlights of the annual report.
Will bad news or good news be announced at the meeting? Will you, as the meeting planner, be privy to the news? If the company is going to announce that profits plummeted during the past year, you don’t want to coordinate a fancy, black-tie party with all the expensive trimmings. Some of the shareholders may see this as a waste of money if you host an extravagant party when profits are down. On the flip side, if there is cause to celebrate, a grand party may be in order.
Finally, many corporations are choosing to hold virtual annual meetings to save money. These meetings include more planning than making sure everyone is online at the same time. You have to arrange for a secure connection for the meeting. You can find many free sites online that offer virtual conferencing for free. Votes can also be placed virtually.
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