Thanks to a new bill by the Federal Ministry of Justice, shareholders may in future take part online over the internet in general meetings, ask questions and vote in real-time mode. In return, the calling of the general meeting, its agenda and all petitions do not have to be published in paper any more. It will be sufficient to publish all the afore-mentioned documents on the homepage of the company in question. The only precondition is a modification of the company’s statutes and articles.
If a shareholder deposited their securities at a bank, he or she in future will have the opportunity to use the voting right electronically via email.
The opportunity of a virtual participation improves the situation in particular of foreign and small shareholders who so far had to travel in order to take part. The costs incurred in such trips were disproportionate to the benefit received by shareholders.
Commenting on the new bill, the German Association for Information Management, Telecommunications and New Media (BITKOM) said that using email and internet the procedure of the general meeting would be facilitated for everybody involved and costs reduced. BITKOM estimates that the saving potential could amount to up to 50 million Euros per year.