CrestCo has announced plans to introduce an electronic proxy voting service next Monday in an effort to improve shareholder involvement in company meetings.
Timed for launch as the 2003 company meeting season is about to begin, the new service aims to provide a mechanism for dematerialised shareholders to exercise their proxy votes.
Company meeting announcements, the appointment of and instructions to a proxy, and the results of company meetings will be provided electronically under the service. Once proxy appointments and voting instructions have been received and processed by Crest, they will be given a time stamp and made available to the issuer’s agent.
Michael Kempe, head of issuer and investor services, at CrestCo, says: "While enhancing straight-through processing, custodians and voting service providers will find it very easy to build value-added services on top."
CrestCo says issuers will benefit from the introduction of standardised message processing and real-time feedback on the status of voting. It is also expected to improve the timeliness of information exchange between investors and their underlying clients.
Industry data suggests that about 40-50% of investors in the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 do not vote, including many foreign investors.
"Given the growing importance of investor communications in corporate governance, the speed, efficiencies and benefits offered by CrestCo’s new proxy voting service should further improve voting rates in 2003," says Kempe.
Issuers will be charged £0.025 each download of proxy appointment and voting instruction data. Users, typically investors or their agents, will be charged £0.15 per proxy appointment and per instruction.