“We are looking forward to seeing you in person again next year”
This year, Deutsche Beteiligungs AG’s (DBAG) Annual General Meeting was held in the same place as usual, but in a completely different atmosphere. For obvious reasons, the AGM had to be held “without the need for shareholders or their authorised representatives to be physically present”, as stated by the Act on Measures [...] to Combat the Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Whilst the Board of Management and Supervisory Board would have preferred to welcome the shareholders in person, this time around Gesellschaftshaus Palmengarten in Frankfurt only served as a background for the transmission of the virtual Annual General Meeting.
First online transmission already back in 2004
DBAG is an experienced user of live streams; after all, the Company has been audio and video streaming its Annual General Meeting on the internet since 2004, thus allowing all shareholders and other stakeholders to follow the AGM. As in many other areas, DBAG thus assumed a pioneering role back in 2004, with the statutory basis for such a transmission only having been created shortly before.
Nevertheless, this year’s AGM organisation presented a new challenge, with audio and video transmission being even more important – as the only way to attend the AGM.
AGM attracts significantly more attention
As a consequence, this year’s transmission was more elaborate: four instead of two cameras, more complex illumination, videos to complement the speech, a stage director managing the entire procedure and creating interesting images. His work seems to have paid off: the first virtual Annual General Meeting on 25 February 2021 was viewed on more than 700 screens – via laptops, desktops, tablets, and smartphones – thus reaching more stakeholders than in previous years through the physical AGM and transmission combined. Average viewing time amongst shareholders and other stakeholders was 90 minutes. The audience was not only able to listen to the report by the Board of Management, but also to the answers from Board of Management and Supervisory Board shareholders’ questions submitted prior to the AGM.
The special AGM format did not hurt attendance: with nearly 56 per cent of the share capital represented, this year’s attendance rate was higher than last year’s (2020: approximately 52 per cent). All proposals for resolutions under the nine agenda items were adopted, with approval ranging between 87 and more than 99 per cent.
And even though we technically succeeded in conducted an Annual General Meeting with legal certainty, we nonetheless missed interaction with shareholders and shareholder representatives in the room. Looking ahead to 2022, therefore, “We hope that we will be able to welcome you in person again – here at Gesellschaftshaus Palmengarten”, as Torsten Grede, Spokesman of DBAG’s Board of Management, concluded his speech.