Continental postpones Annual Shareholders’ Meeting
Continental is postponing its 2020 Annual Shareholders’ Meeting, which was scheduled to take place on 30 April. It reached this decision after the regional government in Lower Saxony, Germany announced a ban on large events in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Postponement was viewed as preferable to relocating the event away from the company’s home town of Hannover.
The ban on large events will remain in place until further notice. “As much as we regret postponing our Shareholders’ Meeting, we fully support the efforts of the authorities to contain the spread of the coronavirus,” comments Dr Elmar Degenhart, chief executive officer of Continental. “We ask all those involved for their understanding of our decision to postpone our Annual Shareholders’ Meeting in such an exceptional situation.”
By law, an annual shareholders’ meeting must be held by the end of the eighth month of a fiscal year. In the case of Continental, that is August. The postponement changes the point in time for the approvals by the Supervisory Board and Annual Shareholders’ Meeting on the planned spin-off of the powertrain business Vitesco Technologies with subsequent listing. Pending these necessary approvals, Continental says it will strive to implement the spin-off and the listing as soon as practicable. Activities related to the planned spin-off will continue unchanged. “The postponement does not call into question the decision regarding the spin-off of Vitesco Technologies,” says Degenhart.
At the same time, Degenhart encourages legal evaluation of holding shareholders’ meetings as virtual-only meetings in the future: “We have streamed our entire Annual Shareholders’ Meeting online for years, offering participants the option to submit their votes electronically from afar. In times of increasing digitalisation, we feel it makes sense to hold shareholders’ meetings online. If the legal requirements for this were already in place, it might not be necessary for us to postpone our Annual Shareholders’ Meeting. All of the related original time schedules could be complied with, and we would not have to delay the dividend payment to our shareholders.”
According to Degenhart, virtual event formats are becoming ever more common. In this context, he pointed out the company’s own encouraging experience: “We have held our annual financial press conference as a purely virtual, dialog-based webcast for six years now. This year alone, we had 2,000 participants. The discussions showed that virtual does not mean that there is no interaction.”