A Growing Number of Companies Move to Online-only Shareholder Meetings

Berkshire Hathaway may be live-streaming its annual shareholders meeting this year, but it isn’t taking the virtual experience as far as some companies. At some firms — and the number is growing — shareholders can watch a meeting only online. No in-person attendance. They also can vote their shares and put company directors on the spot with pointed questions — all online. These new “virtual annual meetings” sound useful for shareholders, but critics say that depends. They say some virtual setups expand participation, while others keep shareholders in the dark. Some companies, like Omaha’s TD Ameritrade, use the technology to give shareholders the best of both worlds, said Amy Borrus, deputy director of the Council for Institutional Investors. The Omaha online brokerage firm sets up a virtual online meeting room with live video, on top of holding a real, in-person meeting.
“We look at it as an opportunity to broaden our audience,” said Kim Hillyer, TD Ameritrade spokeswoman.

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