CMA issues new guidelines for virtual general meetings

MUSCAT: The Capital Market Authority (CMA) of the Sultanate of Oman has issued new rules vide CMA Decision E/25/2020 on convening general meetings of ‘Public Joint Stock Companies and Investment Funds through Electronic Means’. The new rules set the stage for the launch of a new system to convene and hold virtual general meetings. The CMA has also issued a detailed Circular E/8/2020 explaining the procedures to be followed in organizing such online general meetings. The CMA decision and circular can be downloaded from the Authority’s website.

This is another ‘first’ in the region where the agenda of the General Meeting will be submitted to and approved by the CMA electronically. The agenda and notice can be viewed by shareholders online and shareholders can remotely vote on the resolutions. Muscat Clearing and Depository Company (MCDC) has, in collaboration with Omantel and Blockchain Solutions and Services (BSS), have developed a secure local electronic platform to facilitate the process of convening and administering General Meetings.

“It is a matter of great pride that this complex system has been locally developed in the Sultanate of Oman by Omani IT professionals within record time recognizing the criticality of the need when Public Joint Stock Companies were barred from convening their Annual General Meetings (AGM) to prevent further spread of coronavirus. CMA commissioned this project and provided all regulatory and logistics support to urgently launch this system,” said Shaikh Abdullah Salim al Salmi (pictured), the Executive President of Capital Market Authority.

“Keeping in view the current challenges and adopting a futuristic approach, this system will also bring in more transparency in conducting General Meetings and electing Board members. This initiative would increase shareholders’ participation in General Meeting in future as the new Rules mandate that the listed Companies and Investment Funds shall have to continue providing such online electronic participation option for all future General Meetings as well,” added Al Salmi.

The new rules allow the shareholders to register their votes online on the proposed resolutions starting three days prior to the scheduled date of General Meeting. However, the vote can be changed during the meeting but before the voting is closed by the chairman of the meeting. The electronic platform will maintain utmost confidentiality of such pre-voting and will not reveal it except during voting on the item at consideration during the meeting.

The listed companies and funds shall have to coordinate with MCDC after the agenda approval by CMA to host the meeting on MCDC’s electronic platform to enable online viewing of agenda voting on resolutions and remote participation by the shareholders.

A link to view agenda and an invitation to attend the meeting would be sent by MCDC to the mobile numbers and email ids registered by Investors with them.

The CMA has temporarily reduced the notice period of the General Meeting from 15 days to 10 days to facilitate the completion of General Meetings including Annual General Meetings (AGM) for the previous financial year that was suspended by the CMA earlier.

The CMA will start working on a new AGM timetable and start approving the latest General Meetings’ agenda starting from next week to facilitate organizing suspended General Meetings of Public Joint Stock Companies and Investment Funds.

The CMA also intends to host a webinar at which CMA and MCDC officials will give a brief about the new system and hold interactions with the representatives of Public Joint Stock Companies, Investment Funds, Legal Advisors and Auditors. The details of this webinar will be posted on CMA and MCDC websites shortly. CMA and MCDC will also issue further press releases as and when required and MCDC will forthwith publish a user manual with detailed guidelines.

 

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