The importance of the company AGM

Tomorrow's Business

Do AGMs matter anymore? I’ve a feeling they require much less PR-ing than they used to; or at least that flaks have got much better at controlling events so as not to embarrass the chairman.

My favourite AGM was years and years ago. A call went round to the City awkward squad. And a plan was hatched to turn up on mass and beat the living hell out of the chief executive. For a laugh.

I can still remember the flak at the back of the room, head in hands, not far from tears, wondering what she had done to deserve this (nothing).

Tomorrow HSBC holds its first shareholder meeting in Birmingham. I’m not going. Because it’s in Birmingham. On a Friday.

I hope other reporters do make the effort though. Small investors have little enough voice as it is. The AGM is the one chance they get to directly address the board. If this sometimes seems pointless to us, it is meaningful to them and we should take what they have to say seriously.

Some of the investors inclined to turn up to AGMs are, erm, you know, eccentric.

But they’ve a right to be heard and, perhaps, reported. Flaks need to be kept on their toes. And chairmen need reminding who they actually work for.

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