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AGM season not all tea and biscuits

Corporate and M&A, Shareholder Activism
Coffee cups and flowers
In a feature article published today in Fairfax newspapers around the country, Corporate Partner Jonathan Wenig asks board directors: “Would your company be equipped to deal with a Royal Commission into your sector?”

With some of Australia’s largest and most credentialed companies having been “excoriated” by the Banking Royal Commission and shareholder activism on the rise, Jonathan sets out a checklist of areas for boards to think about ahead of their AGMs.

These areas include regulatory compliance, understanding the balance sheet, knowing the shareholders and being ready for a crisis.

“Australia’s boards have long understood the importance of proactive strategy as a core component of their responsibilities but more recent events have underscored the need for similarly sophisticated planning in relation to risk and crisis management,” Jonathan advises.  

“Consider the past two years of Ardent Leisure’s corporate history in the wake of the Dreamworld tragedy. Boards must be prepared to deal with and manage a firestorm when it hits. 

“The Royal Commission has revealed that many companies experience a lack of vital leadership in the wake of a crisis. Where is a crisis most likely to come from in your business? Do you have plans in place to manage that type of crisis?”

“Where is a crisis most likely to come from in your business? Do you have plans in place to manage that type of crisis?”

Jonathan Wenig, Partner

On strategy more broadly, Jonathan says there’s a new conversation taking place around board tables about corporate responsibility that goes beyond shareholder returns.

“Corporates have been more vocal on social issues not directly related to their core businesses – such as Qantas (and others) on marriage equality. 

“This feels different to the corporate social responsibility or “triple bottom line” conversations of decades past, although time will tell.”

The full article appears in The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Canberra Times.

Click here to read the article.

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