More listed firms holding 'investor day'

PHOTO: More listed firms holding 'investor day'

More listed companies with large numbers of retail shareholders are setting aside time for the management to meet investors.

In a new trend, these companies are holding a "retail investor day" as well as the mandatory annual general meeting (AGM).

Usually, retail investors get to meet and question senior management only at the AGM.

Companies which have already held "investor day" events include Olam International, Aims AMP Capital Industrial real estate investment trust and bourse operator, the Singapore Exchange (SGX).

Cambridge Industrial Trust, for example, will be holding its first retail investor day on Nov 4. Its invitation states that there will be a presentation on the industrial sector and the performance of the trust, followed by dinner with the chief executive and other staff.

Its head of investor relations, Ms Caroline Fong, said: "AGMs are more formal and serious by nature and discussions are centred around resolutions to be passed by voting. The more relaxed setting (of an investor day) will also allow investors to get up close and personal with management during dinner.

"We picked an evening time slot so that the working crowd will be able to attend the session as AGMs are usually held in the morning or afternoon."

Ms Fong estimates that the event will cost about $15,000 and will help Cambridge Industrial Trust differentiate itself from other players in the market.

August Consulting managing partner Alan Lee said its clients SP AusNet and Sri Trang Agro-Industry have been holding such sessions annually for the past three to four years.

He said: "It's an opportunity for the chief executive and chief financial officer to connect with local shareholders. This engagement is especially meaningful for firms which opt to have their AGMs abroad or have dual listings.

"Having 450 people turn up at 9am on a Saturday morning shows that the shareholders are serious about knowing more about the business and management."

He added that his firm has been encouraging its S-chip clients - Chinese firms listed here - to adopt similar sessions.

Mr David Gerald, president and chief executive of the Securities Investors Association (Singapore) (Sias), said he is quite optimistic more firms will hold such events to boost shareholder interaction.

"The Code of Corporate Governance recommends that firms actively engage shareholders to improve communication between the firm's management and the investors," he said.

"By giving shareholders better insights into a company's operations and letting them know the directors and senior management, it will allow retail investors to feel like a part of the firm."

However, he said many firms are not holding an investor day due to resource constraints.

"Firms can be busy with daily operations and preparing quarterly results," said Mr Gerald. "And those in key management positions may be busy travelling."

Those in the industry concur with Mr Gerald and said that such informal sessions are not mandatory and would lift costs.

Some companies provide video conference and webcast options to shareholders here if the AGM is held overseas.

Moreover, the SGX has made it mandatory for companies and trusts with a primary listing here to hold their AGMs in Singapore from Jan 1 next year.

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