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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: AGMs provide a platform for all

FINANCIAL TIMES: LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: AGMs provide a platform for all

By Alexander Trotter

Published: July 5 2005

From Mr Alexander Trotter.

Sir, Sir Mark Moody-Stuart’s letter (June 30), questioning the independence of people offered trips to attend annual meetings, is pertinent and highlights his concerns about the corporate governance aspects of shareholders organising into “membership organisations”, with questioning being dominated by one such organisation. Obviously no comparison should be made between Friends of the Earth and those larger institutional investors that join together in order better to promote their interest as shareholders.

Equally, I am sure Sir Mark would not wish to imply that the apparent provision of trips to ask questions at the Shell AGM is comparable to practices of corporate investor relation departments in organising company visits or tours, or that the entertaining sometimes involved with such visits or tours is in any way intended to have an impact on the objectivity of those invited.

AGMs provide a platform for all shareholders, subject of course to the majority at the time of a vote. If special interest groups adopt the practices that have been used for decades by institutional investors and companies themselves, then provided they do so with dignity and transparency, as I think has been the case, what can be the issue?

Alexander Trotter, London SW1A 1LP, UK

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