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Malawi Stock Exchange push for virtual Annual General Meetings

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Frank Harawa

Malawi Stock Exchange (MSE) has said it is exploring ways in which listed companies could host their Annual General Meetings (AGMs) in the safest mode possible as a precaution against spread of Covid-19.

The ideal options include virtual conferences according to the local bourse.

MSE Chief Executive Officer, John Kamanga, said they are discussing with listed companies on the available options.

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“We are coming up with modalities on how best they [companies] can handle the virtual AGMs, either through proxys or individual shareholders because it is not only MSE, but also the Registrar of companies in the Companies Act that request listed companies to hold AGMs within 15 months from the last AGM,” Kamanga said.

He said if companies fail to hold the AGMs within the stipulated timeframe, other modalities will be explored, especially meetings where not more than 100 shareholders would attend.

Last week, one of the listed companies, Standard Bank Malawi plc, announced that shareholders will receive the 2019 annual report using digital means.

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In a response to an email questionnaire, Standard Bank Head of Marketing and Communications, Thoko Unyolo, said the decision was made to minimise physical interaction and contact as part of fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.

She said the bank is still assessing the situation before it takes a step on holding its AGM.

“A decision has not been made (as to whether to hold a physical AGM or not). The Board and management are still monitoring the situation,” Unyolo said.

In an interview, Minority Shareholders Association of Listed Companies General Secretary, Frank Harawa, said the association is not amused with the decision to host virtual AGMs as some shareholders may not have necessary equipment to participate.

“Our members are worried that they may not have the right equipment. Therefore, we are proposing that companies should publicise physical AGMs for real shareholders of that company because experience has shown that actual shareholders present during AGM’s do not exceed 20,” Harawa said.

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