Get the year off to a good start and catch the latest market insights from the Euronext Corporate Services team to support your journey on the capital markets. This edition’s market insights are all about investor relations, from shareholder identification to communication.
Getting to know the shareholder: a tale of two stories
There is no doubt that European SMEs hold many talents. They even have a certain genius for understanding their markets, their customers and the solutions that can give them an edge.
However, such companies often struggle to comprehend their shareholders’ views – and in return they might feel that shareholders often misunderstand the outlook, reasoning and strategy of the company’s management.
The result is puzzlement, frustration and at times downright anger. A symptom of this situation is the rise of votes against Board recommendations, which could impact companies’ strategic execution and valuation. In any case, it creates an unnecessary instability around critical (and highly visible) topics.
This issue has been brought forward by the new version of the EU Shareholder Rights Directive, or SRD II. It is already semi-operational, having been transposed in several European countries already, but will only come fully into force in September 2020. The Directive enhances involvement of shareholders in corporate governance and gives shareholders the right to vote on management remuneration – an increasingly common flashpoint. It also presents a wonderful opportunity for listed companies, by easing the identification of their shareholders and encouraging them to participate more actively in the long term sustainability plans of companies.
The need for ownership analysis, proactive communication and rationalised targeting as well as the desire for more dialogue, magnified by SRD II, explains the growth in the number of clients served by Euronext’s Advisory and IR Solutions team. It now caters to about 80 listed companies, on Euronext platforms and other exchanges.
Fine grains and big pictures
To better understand and engage with investors, Euronext’s “Advisory and IR solutions” teams can provide both granular and big-picture analysis of shareholders’ needs and desires, depending on what the client needs at any particular time including shareholder analysis, high touch advisory and market intelligence, investor benchmarking and targeting in a CRM tool (IR.Manager).
An example of fine-grained analysis: in 2018, a customer needed shareholders to approve a takeover deal, including the necessary financing. The team identified the larger shareholders, and looked at their voting histories and past engagement with the client to sort them into two groups: those likely to wave through the deal, and those that might be wary. Advisory and IR Solutions pinpointed the top five shareholders and defined key messages for management to focus their attention on: they had not met company management in the past year, did not enjoy a close relationship with management and might prove reluctant to agree to the plan.
Communication is key
Getting to know your shareholders also involves strong communication engagement with the market. As a listed company, the ultimate aim is to build a stock market “brand’ that appeals to investors. This brand becomes a key asset throughout the company’s growth, helping through disruption and tough times, but also serving as a starting point for any new appeal to investors. A compelling equity story helps financial communications teams relay a clear picture of a company’s business, competitive environment and strategy.
Among roadshows, press releases and investors gatherings, webcast services are an effective tool to transmit and communicate your messages. Webcasting is a proven distinctive solution which is already used by various international companies such as Engie, Kering or Illiad in France, Telenet or Degroof Petercam in Belgium and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines in the Netherlands. They all trust Company Webcast, a market leader for webinar and webcast of financials results in Belgium, France and the Netherlands, to assist them in reaching out to their investors in an efficient manner.
Ultimately, better communication between management and shareholders will reduce shareholders’ reliance on proxy advisers. Who needs a professional intermediary to tell them which way to vote, if the conversation is flowing without one?
Visit Euronext Corporate Services for more information.