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Annual meetings of shareholders of public companies often feature: attendance by a modest number of shareholders, and by the company’s external legal counsel, auditor, investor-relations firm, service providers and other assorted hangers-on; the casting of virtually all votes prior to the meeting by way of proxy; perfunctory reviews of the past fiscal year by the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer; and one or two desultory questions from shareholders.  In short, annual meetings haven’t evolved in the last 30 years.  Excitement arises only if activist shareholders storm the meeting or if unionized employees speak, particularly if a strike is threatened or in progress.

It’s time for public companies to bring their annual meetings into the digital age and to use them as an effective means of communicating with a large number of shareholders and with the investment community in general.  A revamped annual meeting may even lead to reduced costs when compared to the traditional model of renting a conference room at a hotel and providing refreshments, as modest as they may be, for shareholders.  Canadian corporate law provides a framework which can be used to increase shareholder access to annual meetings and to maximize the impact of annual meetings.


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books-1655783_1280On March 9, 2017, the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) published IIROC Notice 17-0054 – Re-Publication of Proposed IIROC Dealer Member Plain Language Rule Book (the Notice), which republished for comment, the proposed Dealer Member Plain Language Rule Book (the proposed DMPL Rule Book).

The beginnings of the proposed DMPL Rule Book originate

books-1655783_1280Le 9 mars 2017, l’Organisme canadien de réglementation du commerce des valeurs mobilières (l’« OCRCVM ») a publié l’Avis de l’OCRCVM 17-0054 – Nouvelle publication du projet de Manuel de réglementation en langage simple des courtiers membres de l’OCRCVM (l’Avis), publiant une nouvelle fois le projet de Manuel de réglementation en langage simple des

office-1209640_1280On January 10, 2017, the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) issued for comment CSA Consultation Paper 81-408 – Consultation on the Option of Discontinuing Embedded Commissions (the Consultation Paper) for a 150-day comment period. The Consultation Paper presents for discussion, the CSA’s position regarding the effects of sales of investment fund securities or structured notes through commissions, including sales and trailing commissions, paid by investment fund managers (embedded commissions), and proposes that the use of embedded commissions be discontinued in favour of direct pay arrangements.

Proposed Changes

The Consultation Paper currently anticipates that the new regulatory framework would aim to

discontinue any payment of money to dealers in connection with an investor’s purchase or continued ownership of a security described above that is made directly or indirectly by a person other than the investor.

This would, at a minimum, include ongoing trailing commissions or service fees as well as upfront sales commissions for purchases made under a deferred sales commission (DSC) option.


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architecture-22231_1920On January 26, 2017, the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) published CSA Staff Notice 54-305 Meeting Vote Reconciliation Protocols, which provides guidance for establishing accurate, reliable and accountable meeting vote reconciliation protocols (Protocols). The whole, with the goal of improving the transparency and the quality of shareholder voting and ostensibly, shareholder engagement in publicly traded companies.

The Protocols target key service providers involved in meeting vote reconciliation, namely: CDS, intermediaries (such as bank custodians and investment dealers), the primary intermediary voting agents (such as Broadridge), and transfer agents that act as meeting tabulators (key service providers). The guidance provided by the Protocols addresses the types of operational processes which should be implemented by these key service providers so that they can better work together to improve meeting vote reconciliation. Furthermore, the CSA hope that the Protocols will set the groundwork for paperless voting and information transmission as well as the development of end-to-end voting confirmation capabilities.


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