Sberbank has become the first pubic joint stock company to propose its shareholders to use the e-voting technology developed by National Settlement Depository (NSD), Russia’s central securities depository.
99 shareholders of Sberbank used the option to receive the materials of the shareholders meeting remotely and to vote online at the AGM held on 26 May. In total, 806 shareholders representing 33.3% votes of the total number of voting shares participated in the AGM electronically (including those who used the e-proxy voting technology).
Maria Krasnova, Deputy Chairman of the Executive Board, NSD, said: “The e-voting technology was successfully launched at the meeting of shareholders of Sberbank, which confirmed the convenience and reliability of the new platform. We will be inviting all issuers to use the technology. As any other fundamentally new technology, e-voting will require some time to let people know about it, to trust it and to get used to it. However, even now we can see that electronic voting is becoming a part of the required corporate practices of the leading Russian companies.”
Users of the service noted the convenience of the new technology. Access to the e-voting platform is provided via the Unified Authorization and Authentication System (UAAS) which is available on the State Services Portal. Sberbank shareholders could also use the e-voting service via one-time login and password received from JSC STATUS, Sberbank's registrar. The platform is bilingual: the interface, AGM materials, agenda items put to the vote were available in both Russian and English. This encourages more shareholders to participate in meetings by attracting the foreign audience.
Ms. Krasnova added: “The strategic task of NSD is to create high-tech services for our clients. E-voting is a revolutionary technology which allows a greater number of shareholders (including foreign ones) to take part in meetings, provides for increased transparency of Russian companies’ corporate governance and, consequently, raises the attractiveness of Russian assets.”
About the e-voting platform
Implementing the e-voting service in the Russian market became possible once Federal Law No. 210-FZ was adopted; it established the right of shareholders to use this type of voting at shareholders meetings as of 1 July 2016. Issuers (such as Sberbank) which added the e-voting option for their shareholders to their charters are entitled to propose such service.
The e-voting platform provides shareholders with free access to the e-voting website.
The service has the following functionality:
• An opportunity to register and vote electronically1 (by filling out an electronic ballot at www.e-vote.ru);
• An opportunity to connect to the video or text broadcasting (depending on the issuer’s choice);
• An access to agenda items and materials of the meeting;
• Online communications with the issuers during the meeting.
The platform is accessible anywhere in the world; no special technical means are required to vote. The new service is available for all categories of shareholders regardless of where their securities are held - in the register or with a depository. If an investor owns shares of a few companies, he/she may vote via the platform’s services without bearing additional costs. The e-voting platform is a turnkey solution which can be integrated into issuers’ and registrars’ computer systems.
When using the e-voting platform, an issuer and its audit committee can receive data about shareholders’ votes in the online mode. To calculate votes and adopt resolutions, the issuer can timely register the votes of shareholders who attended the meeting and the votes submitted via the e-voting system. The document interchange between issuers, registrars, and the CSD will be carried out on the basis of ISO international formats implemented by NSD as part of corporate action reform. It provides for a straight through process of automation across all stages of meetings.
This platform will be convenient for different issuers: from major companies with tens and hundreds of thousands of shareholders to small issuers.
The use of the e-voting service by issuers becomes very important if shareholders live in different Russian regions and abroad.
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