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The Virtual Shareholder Meeting: A Growing Way to Avoid Protestors?

The upcoming March 22nd annual shareholder meeting of the Hewlett Packer Enterprise (HPE) Company during President Trump’s first 100 days in office will be interesting in one fascinating way. It will be completely virtual.

As protests of all kinds rock American society, we may be on the cutting edge of a trend that will become standard operating procedure in the near future. According to HPE, an all virtual meeting enables shareholder participation. But is that their only objective?

This is the second year that HPE held an all virtual annual meeting. Only 70 companies out of the existing 8,000 held virtual meetings last year. Of those 70, only the following eight joined HPE as a S&P 500 company:

1) Alaska Air
2) CA Technologies
3) CSRA
4) Harman International
5) Illumina
6) Laboratory Corp of America
7) Mosaic
8) PayPal

Companies have always had shareholder meetings. Some of these meetings are more popular than others. But they were always held in hotels or fancy corporate offices. This will be the first all virtual meeting with no physical meeting location since President Trump took office. To be clear, companies have always given shareholders the opportunity to listen in online or phone in but that has always been in connection to a meeting happening in a physical location.

Could this be a growing trend? A result of the corporate backlash from the masses aided by our country’s CEO? In our view, it makes most sense to hold shareholder meetings online. It provides safety to the attendees and host. But how will protesters, who are used to having a physical location to disrupt, react? Will they call in on the internet and submit a protest video stream? Danger: Could activist hackers take over a meeting and spread fake corporate news? IR officers may have a new role!

Source: https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1645590/000104746917000541/a2230793zdef14a.htm