Governance in focus: When the AGM is everything but personal



Companies are looking for ways to fulfil their legal obligations to hold an annual general meeting without the problems arising from attracting vocal, even potentially violent, protests.

In the United States, many states are beginning to allow “virtual” meetings and British companies hope that they could offer similar summits online, although none have yet taken the plunge.

“You could argue that online meetings would be more, not less, accessible,” says Catherine May, who has held the roles of corporate affairs director at Centrica and the brewer SAB Miller in recent years.

Voting could be done electronically or by phone.

Important analyst meetings and press conferences are already held online and via conference calls and the system works reasonably well.

In the US, companies have been holding hybrid AGMs, where some participate in person and others attend virtually. Now the technology company Hewlett Packard has ditched its formal annual meeting in favour of a virtual one. The company took the step last year, after its chief executive Meg Whitman had been involved in a heated exchange regarding diversity in the workplace with the Reverend Jesse Jackson at HP’s annual meeting in the Santa Clara Convention Center.

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Governance in focus

Awareness: UAE companies increasingly aware of gains to be had

Management: Know your requirements before you set up a board

AGMs: When annual meetings become forums for confrontation

Editor's letter: An issue important to our well-being

History: Be good, because investors are watching more closely

Poll: Corporate governance in the UAE - have your say

Analysis: A good board brings right mix of knowledge and culture

Gender equality: 30% Club GCC chapter to boost women numbers on company boards

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According to the virtual meeting service Broadridge Financial Solutions, the popularity of virtual meetings has been soaring in the US. In 2009, Broadridge hosted one virtual meeting and three hybrid meetings. By 2015 it was holding 90 virtual-only meetings and 44 hybrids.

The Canadian yoga wear company Lululemon held an online-only meeting this year, which irritated some of its shareholders, including its founder Chip Wilson. He asked for permission to address the webcast meeting at the start of June, but the company refused.

SeaWorld Entertainment, which fears animal rights protests, also holds online-only meetings.

The consumer goods company Procter & Gamble changed its bylaws in 2010 to allow such meetings, but backtracked after objections from shareholders, including two descendants of a company founder.

However, some of the biggest investors in the US are not convinced by the trend and believe that it is an attempt to further marginalise shareholders. Calpers, a large California public pension fund, is among investors who have argued against virtual-only meetings.

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MEDIEVIL (1998)

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Console: PlayStation, PlayStation 4 and 5
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Director: Nag Ashwin

Starring: Prabhas, Saswata Chatterjee, Deepika Padukone, Amitabh Bachchan, Shobhana

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Company profile

Name: Maly Tech
Started: 2023
Founder: Mo Ibrahim
Based: Dubai International Financial Centre
Sector: FinTech
Funds raised: $1.6 million
Current number of staff: 15
Investment stage: Pre-seed, planning first seed round
Investors: GCC-based angel investors

Financial considerations before buying a property

Buyers should try to pay as much in cash as possible for a property, limiting the mortgage value to as little as they can afford. This means they not only pay less in interest but their monthly costs are also reduced. Ideally, the monthly mortgage payment should not exceed 20 per cent of the purchaser’s total household income, says Carol Glynn, founder of Conscious Finance Coaching.

“If it’s a rental property, plan for the property to have periods when it does not have a tenant. Ensure you have enough cash set aside to pay the mortgage and other costs during these periods, ideally at least six months,” she says. 

Also, shop around for the best mortgage interest rate. Understand the terms and conditions, especially what happens after any introductory periods, Ms Glynn adds.

Using a good mortgage broker is worth the investment to obtain the best rate available for a buyer’s needs and circumstances. A good mortgage broker will help the buyer understand the terms and conditions of the mortgage and make the purchasing process efficient and easier. 

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Revibe
Started: 2022
Founders: Hamza Iraqui and Abdessamad Ben Zakour
Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
Funds raised so far: $10m
Investors: Flat6Labs, Resonance and various others

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Almouneer
Started: 2017
Founders: Dr Noha Khater and Rania Kadry
Based: Egypt
Number of staff: 120
Investment: Bootstrapped, with support from Insead and Egyptian government, seed round of
$3.6 million led by Global Ventures

Previous men's records
  • 2:01:39: Eliud Kipchoge (KEN) on 16/9/19 in Berlin
  • 2:02:57: Dennis Kimetto (KEN) on 28/09/2014 in Berlin
  • 2:03:23: Wilson Kipsang (KEN) on 29/09/2013 in Berlin
  • 2:03:38: Patrick Makau (KEN) on 25/09/2011 in Berlin
  • 2:03:59: Haile Gebreselassie (ETH) on 28/09/2008 in Berlin
  • 2:04:26: Haile Gebreselassie (ETH) on 30/09/2007 in Berlin
  • 2:04:55: Paul Tergat (KEN) on 28/09/2003 in Berlin
  • 2:05:38: Khalid Khannouchi (USA) 14/04/2002 in London
  • 2:05:42: Khalid Khannouchi (USA) 24/10/1999 in Chicago
  • 2:06:05: Ronaldo da Costa (BRA) 20/09/1998 in Berlin
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4pm: Mahab Al Shimaal Group 3 | US$350,000 | (Dirt) | 1,200m
Winner: Drafted, Pat Dobbs (jockey), Doug Watson (trainer).

4.35pm: Al Bastakiya Listed | $300,000 | (D) | 1,900m
Winner: Divine Image, Brett Doyle, Charlie Appleby.

5.10pm: Nad Al Sheba Turf Group 3 | $350,000 | (Turf) | 1,200m
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5.45pm: Burj Nahaar Group 3 | $350,000 | (D) | 1,600m
Winner: Muntazah, Jim Crowley, Doug Watson.

6.20pm: Dubai City of Gold Group 2 | $300,000 | (T) | 2,410m
Winner: Old Persian, William Buick, Charlie Appleby.

6.55pm: Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 Group 1 | $600,000 | (D) | 2,000m
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7.30pm: Jebel Hatta Group 1 | $400,000 | (T) | 1,800m
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Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices

Key developments

All times UTC+4

ABU DHABI'S KEY TOURISM GOALS: BY THE NUMBERS

By 2030, Abu Dhabi aims to achieve:

• 39.3 million visitors, nearly 64% up from 2023

• Dh90 billion contribution to GDP, about 84% more than Dh49 billion in 2023

• 178,000 new jobs, bringing the total to about 366,000

• 52,000 hotel rooms, up 53% from 34,000 in 2023

• 7.2 million international visitors, almost 90% higher compared to 2023's 3.8 million

• 3.9 international overnight hotel stays, 22% more from 3.2 nights in 2023

Cry Macho

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Pox that threatens the Middle East's native species

Camelpox

Caused by a virus related to the one that causes human smallpox, camelpox typically causes fever, swelling of lymph nodes and skin lesions in camels aged over three, but the animal usually recovers after a month or so. Younger animals may develop a more acute form that causes internal lesions and diarrhoea, and is often fatal, especially when secondary infections result. It is found across the Middle East as well as in parts of Asia, Africa, Russia and India.

Falconpox

Falconpox can cause a variety of types of lesions, which can affect, for example, the eyelids, feet and the areas above and below the beak. It is a problem among captive falcons and is one of many types of avian pox or avipox diseases that together affect dozens of bird species across the world. Among the other forms are pigeonpox, turkeypox, starlingpox and canarypox. Avipox viruses are spread by mosquitoes and direct bird-to-bird contact.

Houbarapox

Houbarapox is, like falconpox, one of the many forms of avipox diseases. It exists in various forms, with a type that causes skin lesions being least likely to result in death. Other forms cause more severe lesions, including internal lesions, and are more likely to kill the bird, often because secondary infections develop. This summer the CVRL reported an outbreak of pox in houbaras after rains in spring led to an increase in mosquito numbers.

Top investing tips for UAE residents in 2021

Build an emergency fund: Make sure you have enough cash to cover six months of expenses as a buffer against unexpected problems before you begin investing, advises Steve Cronin, the founder of DeadSimpleSaving.com.

Think long-term: When you invest, you need to have a long-term mindset, so don’t worry about momentary ups and downs in the stock market.

Invest worldwide: Diversify your investments globally, ideally by way of a global stock index fund.

Is your money tied up: Avoid anything where you cannot get your money back in full within a month at any time without any penalty.

Skip past the promises: “If an investment product is offering more than 10 per cent return per year, it is either extremely risky or a scam,” Mr Cronin says.

Choose plans with low fees: Make sure that any funds you buy do not charge more than 1 per cent in fees, Mr Cronin says. “If you invest by yourself, you can easily stay below this figure.” Managed funds and commissionable investments often come with higher fees.

Be sceptical about recommendations: If someone suggests an investment to you, ask if they stand to gain, advises Mr Cronin. “If they are receiving commission, they are unlikely to recommend an investment that’s best for you.”

Get financially independent: Mr Cronin advises UAE residents to pursue financial independence. Start with a Google search and improve your knowledge via expat investing websites or Facebook groups such as SimplyFI. 

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COMPANY PROFILE

Name: SmartCrowd
Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
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Top 10 most competitive economies

1. Singapore
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