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Biz Buzz: Educating ‘snackholders’

/ 12:20 AM June 09, 2017

This corporate governance advocacy group has been picking up shares in selected publicly listed companies and sending members to observe and raise pertinent questions during annual stockholders’ meetings. We’re referring to Shareholders Association of the Philippines (SharePHIL) led by veteran lawyer and former Philippine Stock Exchange president Francis Lim, who believes that shareholders’ meetings should be “truly meaningful” and should serve as a forum to intelligently discuss things about the company.

“We should veer away from our old practice where shareholders attend meetings only for the giveaways and snacks as to earn them the monicker ‘snackholders’. We have also noted that the quality of the questions asked during the meetings has shown some improvement. We will continue with our mission to educate our shareholders because we believe in shareholder empowerment through education,” Lim said.

SharePHIL has so far invested in 31 companies, 23 of whose shareholders’ meetings it has attended this year compared to 12 corporations observed in 2013 and five corporations in 2014.

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Based on SharePHIL’s survey, there has been continuous improvement in the way corporate governance practices are applied in the conduct of shareholder meetings among publicly listed corporations. For instance, all companies are able to present their financial and operating results. But there is still room for improvement like major resolutions and acts of management must be presented prior to ratification; there must be adequate presentation, discussion on mitigation strategies to address business risks, and it is important the audit committee endorses external audit nomination.

SharePHIL also wants companies to present their business plans on the floor and there’s a need for more transparency, disclosure and accessibility of information on the corporate website, among others.

In eight out of 23 shareholders’ meetings observed by SharePHIL, there were questions raised on the acts of the board and management before a motion was put on the floor. However, more and more companies are now discussing acts approved by the board before being submitting them for ratification by shareholders. Eleven out of 23 observed companies disclosed business risks while 16 disclosed acts of management compared to only four in the last survey.

SharePHIL chair Evelyn Singson said: “We are glad that there have been improvement both in the way the meetings are conducted and the content of what is reported to the shareholders during the meeting. We will share our observations with the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) and PSE (Philippine Stock Exchange).” —DORIS DUMLAO-ABADILLA

Questions

Probers of the Philippine National Police and security industry professionals are pointing to a key issue in last week’s Resorts World Manila incident that resulted in a lone gunman torching the casino hotel’s facilities resulting in the deaths of 38 guests and staffers.

According a source familiar with the investigation, authorities are questioning what appears to be a lack of coordination between Resorts World’s security personnel who were responding to the gunman and what should have been a staffer in the control room where the monitors for the security cameras were located.

“What should have happened was that the person in the control room, who can see everything because of the CCTV cameras, would be directing security over their radios on where to find the gunman,” the source said.

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“Ideally, the person manning the control room should be able to tell everyone immediately that this gunman was alone, and not a group of terrorists as initially feared,” he added, adding that vital information like this would have helped hotel security respond faster and neutralize the suspect sooner, possibly saving more lives.

A CCTV footage showed security personnel looking for the gunman up a stairwell with the armed guard not knowing that the suspect was hiding to his right side, a vital information that a more coordinated response could have provided.

Of course, all these analyses by authorities and security officials are made using 20/20 hindsight, but they do raise valid points.

On the upside, we understand that the Megaworld group will be extending more financial assistance to the kin of the victims, more that the P1 million initially announced. That’s good. —DAXIM L. LUCAS

Old made new

Legendary mobile phone brand Nokia is back in the Philippines, with the launch of new smartphones and the iconic 3310, a showstopper feature phone even in this smartphone-crazed era.

For many Filipinos, it’s a homecoming of sorts. As the Philippines became known as the texting capital of the world— the prevalent and least expensive means to communicate in the early to mid 2000s—one could have bet those messages were sent on a Nokia device.

Officials of startup HMD Global, which now takes the lead on anything Nokia phone related, is facing both familiar and challenging territory.

For one, it’s entering the smartphone market here dominated by local manufacturers, who have built up a rather loyal base.

Nokia launched three Android smartphone models, the Nokia 3, 5, and 6. A lot of attention went to the 3310, a slimmer and more high-tech version than what many remember.

Ambitious targets have been set. HMD’s country manager here, Shannon Mead, said Nokia intends to capture a leading spot “in the next few years.” —MIGUEL R. CAMUS

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TAGS: Nokia 3310, Resorts World Manila incident, Shareholders, Shareholders Association of the Philippines (SharePHIL), smartphones
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