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NGO highlights cross-border engagement issues

european_investorsDespite recent moves to improve EU cross-border shareholders’ rights, increasing evidence suggests that engagement barriers remain between countries, according to European non-governmental organisation Better Finance. 

The group, also known as The European Federation of Investors and Financial Services Users, is embarking on a research project looking into shareholders’ EU cross-border voting rights.

Better Finance is calling on shareholders to share their experience with issues such as received information and investee companies’ general meetings dates in light of the recent update to the Shareholder Rights Directive (SRD).

The updates, which came into force as SRD II in September 2020, mean depositary banks must share these notifications with shareholders, regardless of where companies are located in the EU. 

Better Finance’s chief communications officer, Arnaud Houdmont, has highlighted that while the EU has been trying to facilitate the exercise of shareholders’ rights over the last few years, increasing evidence suggests “important barriers” to cross-border engagement within the bloc remain in place.

“When individual shareholders, who by their nature are long-term investors, cannot exercise their voting rights, long-term shareholder engagement falters. Dialogue between issuers and shareholders is crucial to stimulate good governance, but without oversight, companies are not held to account,” Houdmont said.

The survey on cross-border shareholders’ rights can be found here.

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