The annual general meeting (AGM) is a firm fixture in the calendar of UK public companies. It serves as an opportunity to reflect on the previous year’s performance and provides vital information to shareholders. An AGM also looks to the future, setting clear company-wide targets for the coming year and analysing the market and industry trends that may impact performance.
There are certain guidelines and restrictions on who can attend an AGM, when they should be held and what should be discussed. MSP Secretaries are experienced in facilitating and managing AGMs for our clients and these are our key takeaways for any company unsure of the process. This handy guide to the AGM process takes a close look at what is involved and why the meetings are so important.
WHEN TO HOLD AN AGM
Every UK public company must hold their first AGM within 18 months of incorporation. This acts as an important benchmark in identifying and solidifying the financial goals and key areas of focus for the company.
After this initial meeting, AGMs must be held within six months of the end of each company’s financial year – with a maximum of 15 months between AGMs. While June is a popular choice, companies can choose a date that best suits their business.
Since the AGM is primarily focused on the performance of the company, the most recent financial accounts are a key ingredient.
CAN YOU POSTPONE AN AGM?
AGMs are an important part of the oversight of a business and are a legally mandated process. A company’s Articles of Association will lay out strict details around when an AGM should be held. They should also state what procedures to follow in the event of an unavoidable postponement and the timescales in which this should be dealt with.
External factors can impact a company’s ability to hold an AGM. During the Covid-19 pandemic, some restrictions were lifted so that companies could be more flexible and adhere to social distancing guidelines.
HOW TO ORGANISE AN AGM AND WHO ATTENDS
The Articles of Association will contain clear and specific parameters for how an AGM must be organised and who must be notified – with adequate notice given to shareholders.
Adequate notice is considered to be 21 ‘clear’ days which in reality can be as many as 27 days, although is more commonly 24 days. Of course, circumstances could dictate the need for shorter notice periods which is possible with the consent of all shareholders.
An AGM can be of interest to a variety of stakeholders, and there are guidelines on who should be in attendance. All shareholders should be invited to all AGMs, along with all members of the Board. Potential investors may be invited by the Directors, and members of the general public can also attend with permission.
Depending on the discretion of the Directors, members of the public may be allowed to ask questions at the end of the AGM.
WHAT IS A QUORUM FOR AN AGM?
A quorum vote is defined in the Articles of Association as a minimum consensus required to take a vote on a motion raised within an AGM. This can be used if not all relevant parties attend an AGM, but a decision still needs to be made – and can be used for as few as two shareholders. An AGM should not take place unless a suitable quorum as per the Articles of Association is present.
HOW CAN MSP SECRETARIES HELP WITH AGMS?
MSP Secretaries are industry-leading experts in the organisation, administration and hosting of AGMs. We can provide expert professional advice and support you with scheduling, minute taking and other administrative and logistical concerns. This ensures you always stay within the defined timescales and follow all relevant legislation.
MSP Secretaries can also operate as Company Secretary to support your Directors and provide guidance at every stage of the process. AGMs are an important part of your business and we can help to ensure that they are handled appropriately.
Please contact us for further assistance in these areas.