Virtual Annual General Meeting – second edition

DBAG sets up portal for video messages

For the second consecutive year, the Annual General Meeting of Deutsche Beteiligungs AG (DBAG) was forced to take place without shareholders or their authorised representatives being physically present. For the second time, the Palmengarten Gesellschaftshaus in Frankfurt merely 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, and not just since last year. It has been audio and video streaming its Annual General Meeting over the internet since 2004, thus allowing all shareholders and other stakeholders to follow the entire AGM – including discussions on agenda items.

This year, DBAG expanded its voluntary offer: all shareholders were given the option to submit their questions using videos up to three minutes long, or to comment using a moving series of images. Christian Retkowski represents the German Association for the Protection of Investors Rights (Schutzgemeinschaft der Kapitalanleger, SdK). He posted a short video on the shareholder portal. So that shareholders could also refer to the Board of Management’s speech at the Annual General Meeting in their questions, the speech by Torsten Grede, Spokesman of the Board of Management, was posted more than a day before the deadline for submitting questions.

Like last year, the special AGM format did not hurt attendance: with 56 per cent of the share capital entitled to vote represented, the attendance rate matched the previous year’s, yet was four percentage points higher than for the most recent pre-Covid AGM in 2020. All six proposals for resolution were adopted, with approval ranging between 94.8 and 99.9 per cent.

Regardless of the pandemic development, the format of next year’s AGM is still undecided. A bill on virtual AGMs is currently under consultation with the various interest groups on the capital market. Within their coalition agreement, the parties comprising Germany’s new federal government had resolved to make virtual annual general meetings a permanent option. “We are generally open to innovation and welcome the Government’s proposal that public limited companies should be able to use virtual annual general meetings as an additional form of meeting in the future,” said Jannick Hunecke, member of the Board of Management, during DBAG’s most recent AGM, in response to one shareholder’s question, but: “First we will have to wait for the legal changes before we can gauge the format and specifics of future Annual General Meetings.”