Below are key takeaways from ISS’ recently released 2020 Hong Kong Proxy Season Review. The full report is available to institutional subscribers by logging into ISS Link then selecting the Governance Exchange and its Report Center tab and to corporate subscribers by logging into Governance Analytics then selecting the Governance Exchange and the Report Center tab.
- COVID-19 pandemic disrupts AGM timeline and use of hybrid meetings: The outbreak of COVID-19 interfered with the preparation of annual meetings of listed companies. As a result, more than 100 meetings that are normally held in May were moved to June. To enable shareholders to particiate in the general meetings by electronic means,some companies turned their general meetings into hybrid meetings where there was a physical general meeting, and at the same time live proceedings of the physical general meetings were made available.
- Enhanced ESG governance and reporting: The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Ltd. (HKEx) amended the Hong Kong ESG Guide and related Hong Kong Listing Rules provisions to raise the ESG practices and reporting standards for Hong Kong listed companies. The enhanced ESG governance and reporting received strong support from market participants in Hong Kong.
- Measures to improve market quality and reputation: Trading suspension as a result of problematic financial reporting, and enhanced backdoor listing rules were part of a series of measures undertaken by HKEx to improve the quality and reputation of the Hong Kong market.
- Shortening of notice period for general meetings: The Adjustment of Notice Period for General Meetings will shorten the notice period for general meetings of Chinese companies from 45 days before the meeting date to 20 days before the date of the annual general meeting and 15 days before the date of the extraordinary general meeting.
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