French central securities depository (CSD) Euroclear France and Broadridge Financial Solutions will launch on 25 March an automated service to proactively notify domestic and foreign institutional investors holding shares in NYSE Euronext Paris-listed companies of upcoming annual and extraordinary general meetings (AGMs and EGMs). Investors in listed companies are promised a central conduit through which to automatically receive meeting notifications.
The automated service will comply with the recommendations of the European Market Standards for General Meetings (MSGM) aimed at facilitating efficient and automated voting processes. This includes the distribution of corporate event information for shareholders wherever they are located. Euroclear France and Broadridge will collect relevant shareholder information from a number of sources: the Bulletin des Annonces Légales Obligatoires (BALO), issuers and foreign CSDs. They will then provide investors with updated general and extraordinary meeting information, via email or International Standards Organisation (ISO) compliant messaging, covering all 760 companies listed on NYSE Euronext Paris.
Valérie Urbain, chief executive officer (CEO), Euroclear France, Euroclear Belgium and Euroclear Nederland, said: “We are aligning our service with the EU Shareholder Rights Directive (SRD), which seeks to increase shareholder influence in the companies they own and raise levels of governance transparency. Euroclear France is helping to ensure that international and domestic investors are able to receive information on company meetings automatically, without the need to actively seek it out themselves. In the aftermath of the financial crisis, the timeliness of our joint service with Broadridge will help to improve corporate governance by simplifying the distribution of key information. We also plan to automate the voting process at annual and extraordinary general meetings for domestic and foreign investors later this year.”
“Broadridge sees this collaboration with Euroclear France as another major step forward in our efforts to increase the straight-through processing (STP) and overall automation of the proxy process globally, in line with the goals of not only the EU SRD, but also supporting compliance with the MSGM. We look forward to extending the same benefits of this cooperation to the other Euroclear Settlement of Euronext-zone Securities (ESES) markets as soon as possible,” said Patricia Rosch, president, investor communication solutions, international, at Broadridge.
Euroclear France is the first of the three ESES CSDs to automate company meeting notifications. Vote automation, the second stage of the service, will be delivered separately in France, at a later stage, and in cooperation with VOTACCESS – the electronic platform appointed by AFTI to collect shareholder voting instructions before AGMs and EGMs in France. The remaining ESES CSDs – Euroclear Belgium and Euroclear Nederland – will also launch automated meeting notification and voting services in their respective markets later this year.
However, a London summit on the industry’s introduction of the technology cautions that testing and acceptance are still at an early stage and firms should proceed with caution.
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