Getting Value from AGMs

The Business Council of Australia today released a new code of conduct for annual general meetings.

BCA President, Dr John Schubert, said that the General Meetings: Code of Conduct, developed by the BCA’s Chairmen’s Panel, is designed to increase the value of AGMs for shareholders, boards and management.

“Corporate governance remains an issue of concern for the community, politicians and the media,” said BCA President, Dr John Schubert.

“While the reasons for this concern are understood, the Business Council of Australia is firmly of the view that there is no corporate governance crisis in Australia. It is important, however, for business to take these continuing concerns seriously and to respond in ways that do improve communication with shareholders.

“The annual general meeting is an important element of corporate governance and the main opportunity each year for ordinary shareholders to comment and question the board and management of their companies.

“The new code of conduct will improve the efficiency of those meetings and increase the opportunity for all shareholders to speak, by providing a process to ensure that shareholders are considerate of each other’s right to participate,” he said.

The code has been developed with initial input from BHP Billiton and in consultation with the Australian Shareholders’ Association. The BCA has now written to the chairmen of the top 50 companies in Australia, encouraging them to adopt the code for their company AGMs.

“We believe that wide adoption of the code will demonstrate business’s commitment to the full participation of shareholders in effective and meaningful AGMs, while at the same time setting a standard for managing those that would seek to disrupt the meetings,” said Dr Schubert.

BCA Chairmen’s Panel

The BCA Chairmen’s Panel consists of some of Australia’s most eminent business leaders. Its role is to support the work of the BCA on public policy issues, with a particular focus on issues of importance to the boards of major Australian corporations. The members of the BCA Chairmen’s Panel are:

Dr John Schubert, Chair
Mr Don Argus AO
Mr David Gonski AO
Ms Margaret Jackson AC
Mr Graham Kraehe AO
Ms Catherine Livingstone
Ms Helen Lynch AM
Mr Maurice Newman AC
Mr John Ralph AC
Mr Dick Warburton

General Meetings: Code of Conduct