Muss die HV-Stimmrechtsausübung durch einen „Checkpoint Charlie“?

Ein Beitrag aus Großbritannien zur Änderung der EU-Aktionärsrechterichtlinie greift die Fokussierung auf Intermediäre an, wenn es um die Ausübung von Stimmrechten geht. Insbesondere werden US-Banken angegangen, die einen Kontrollpunkt („Checkpoint Charlie“) zwischen Aktionär und Gesellschaft bildeten:

„(…) The concept is very simple. We own shares in a company, we know when the meeting is, we know what the issues are: we want to vote. But the system by which investors vote their shares, in particular across borders, is fraught with complication, lack of transparency (obfuscation) and inefficiency (for owners and managers at least). It is not fit for purpose, because it regularly disenfranchises shareholders. The complication lies in the chain of financial intermediaries that exists between companies and the beneficial owner of the shares (including pension fund members and retail investors). Custodian banks, sub-custodian banks, securities depositaries and their appointed voting agents all play a role (and take their cut). …

One German example is with the annual votes on discharging directors from liability for the year under review. This resolution is often presented as a bundled resolution – where a single vote is used to vote on all directors at once. However, should a shareholder wish to oppose the discharge of a specific director, this can only by done by being physically represented at the meeting. Custodians and sub-custodians aren’t always willing to facilitate this, meaning that in effect you can’t arrange to have your rights exercised as you wish – and it’s far more expensive for foreign shareholders to do so. …

So investors, far from being free to make their own choices with which to be able to rectify the difficulties they have with share voting, have to vote through the „Checkpoint Charlie“ imposed on them by intermediaries with an ill-fitting American model. Furthermore, this impinges on their right to make their views heard at important corporate meetings across Europe every year.

One final irony: At the spot where Checkpoint Charlie was situated, three streets come together. One of them, Mauerstraße, means „Wall Street“. Both in Berlin and in cross-border share voting, Wall Street leads to „Checkpoint Charlie“.

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Veröffentlicht von

Ulrich Noack

Inhaber des Lehrstuhls für Bürgerliches Recht, Handelsrecht und Wirtschaftsrecht an der Heinrich-Heine Universität Düsseldorf Geschäftsführender Direktor des Instituts für Unternehmensrecht

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