Institutions urged to restore role of AGM

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The Independent Online
INSTITUTIONAL investors should reclaim annual meetings as the most important forum for contact between a company and its shareholders, delegates at a National Association of Pension Funds conference in Eastbourne were told yesterday, writes Paul Durman.

Paul Myners, chairman of Gartmore, the pension fund manager, said shareholder meetings had been captured by sectional interests.

Company chairmen no longer saw them as an opportunity to make important announcements, and institutional investors no longer bothered to attend, relying instead on privileged one-to-one briefings.

'I believe the opportunity exists for an enlightened chairman to restore the AGM to its rightful place at the nexus of shareholder and management contact,' Mr Myners said. Companies should use them to give a detailed insight into their operations, and institutions should be willing to question management in front of fellow shareholders.

Only one in five of Britain's top 250 companies meet all the main demands of best practice in corporate governance, but 75 per cent meet most of the requirements and 70 per cent comply with the Cadbury code of practice, the NAPF says.