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Minority shareholders want physical

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Frank Harawa

A grouping of small-scale investors on the Malawi Stock Exchange (MSE) under the Minority Shareholders Association of Listed Companies (Misalico) has complained of being sidelined in making decisions in companies they partly own through the holding of virtual annual general meetings (AGMs).

Last year, the MSE resorted to allow listed companies to hold AGMs virtually as a precaution against the spread of the coronavirus.

In an interview Misalico General Secretary Frank Harawa wondered why companies should continue holding virtual AGMs when Parliament will be meeting physically.

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“Can we have a concrete reason why listed companies are still opting for virtual meetings where by some shareholders are marginalised to present their views? We need MSE or the Reserve Bank of Malawi to come to our rescue. Three years of silence is too dangerous for Misalico,” Harawa said.

He added that companies may have a huge number of shareholders but only a few, within the regulated number of physical meetings, attend AGMs.

In a separate interview, MSE Chief Executive Officer John Kamanga said the virtual AGMs do not limit the shareholders as they are also given a chance to ask questions before the holding of AGMs and responses on their questions are provided on the same.

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“Most listed companies have more than 1,000 shareholders. They therefore need to adhere to the guidelines as issued by the Presidential Taskforce on Covid. It is quite risky to expose our valued investors to an environment where there will be more than 250 attendees.

“We do understand their concern but safety is a priority which we cannot compromise. If the Presidential Taskforce can issue guidelines to open up for public gatherings then there is no problem for listed companies to be holding physical AGMs,” Kamanga said.

“The holding of virtual AGMs is not only being done on MSE listed companies but also in the region under Committee of Sadc Stock Exchanges and African Securities Exchange Association. let us all join hands in fighting Covid by following the guidelines put forward as we look forward to better times where we can hold physical AGMs,” he said.

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