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Vouchers, gifts, food served at AGMs are board's prerogative, says SIAS

COMPANY annual general meetings are about the annual report and shareholders seeking accountability from the board. On the other hand, vouchers, gifts and food served at these meeting are "a privilege, not a right of shareholders", said David Gerald, president and chief executive of the Securities Investors Association of Singapore (SIAS).

"SIAS supports companies not serving food at AGMs. Shareholders should not pressurize the board and management to provide food or freebies," said Mr Gerald, in the wake of discussions on whether it is acceptable for companies to scrap providing such tokens at AGMs.

He said many shareholders have provided feedback to SIAS about the "unhappiness over the misbehavior of a few shareholders who insist on rushing for food and packing food home" at AGMs.

"Some even spill the food, bringing maids and grandchildren without showing any regard or being mindful of other shareholders," he said, adding that some CEOs have also contacted him for views on the matter.

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While only a minority of shareholders misbehave and have brought bad reputation to the investing community, the SIAS is of the view that the decision on whether to provide food or vouchers is entirely up to the board.

"It is unfortunate that some shareholders have abused this privilege and tarnished the, otherwise, good standing of most shareholders," he said, in a statement.

"SIAS recognises, and has maintained since inception, that the voucher, gift and food served at annual general meetings are a privilege not a right of shareholders," he asserted.

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