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CMA allows listed firms, funds to hold general meetings online

19 Apr 2020

The listed companies and investment funds in Oman will be able to hold their general meetings online during the COVID-19 pandemic under new rules issued by the Capital Market Authority (CMA).

The CMA on Thursday issued new rules on convening general meetings of the public joint stock companies and investment funds through electronic means. The new rules set the stage to launch a system to convene and hold general meetings online. A new CMA circular explained the procedures to be followed in organising such online general meetings.

According to a press statement issued by the CMA, this is the first time in the region where the general meeting agenda will be submitted to and approved by the CMA electronically, and the agenda and notice can be viewed by shareholders online and shareholders can remotely vote on the meeting resolution.

Muscat Clearing and Depository Company (MCDC) has, in collaboration with Omantel and Blockchain Solutions and Services (BSS), developed a secure local electronic platform to facilitate the process of convening and administering general meetings of the companies and investment funds.

“It is a matter of great pride that this complex system has been locally developed by Omani IT professionals within a record time recognising the criticality of the need when public joint stock companies were barred from convening their annual general meetings (AGMs) to prevent further spread of coronavirus. The CMA commissioned this project and provided all regulatory and logistics support to urgently launch this system,” said H E Sheikh Abdullah Salim al Salmi, executive president of the CMA.

“Keeping in view the current challenges and adopting a futuristic approach, this system will also bring in more transparency in conducting general meetings and electing board members. This initiative would increase shareholders’ participation in general meetings in the future as the new rules mandate that the listed companies and investment funds shall have to continue providing such online electronic participation option for all future general meetings as well,” added H E Salmi.

The new rules allow the shareholders to register their votes online on the proposed resolutions starting three days prior to the scheduled date of general meeting. However, the vote can be changed during the meeting but before the voting is closed by the chairman of the meeting. The electronic platform will maintain utmost confidentiality of such pre-voting and will not reveal it except during voting on the item at consideration during the meeting.

The listed companies and funds shall have to coordinate with MCDC after the agenda approval by the CMA to host the meeting on MCDC’s electronic platform to enable online viewing of agenda voting on resolutions and remote participation by shareholders.

A link to view the agenda and attend the meeting would be sent by MCDC to the mobile numbers and email IDs registered by investors with them.

The CMA has temporarily reduced the notice period of the general meeting from 15 days to ten days to facilitate the completion of general meetings including AGM for the previous financial year that was suspended by the CMA earlier.

The CMA would start working on the new AGM timetable and approving the latest general meetings agenda from next week to facilitate organising suspended general meetings of companies and investment funds.

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