The Korea Herald


Market looks ahead to ‘post-coronavirus’ proxy season in March

By Bae Hyunjung

Published : March 1, 2021 - 17:09

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(Yonhap) (Yonhap)

This year’s March proxy season is to herald unprecedented scenes, including virtual meetings, e-voting systems and the rising presence of environmentally friendly corporate policy frames -- reflecting the COVID-19 pandemic situation.

While top-tier conglomerates swiftly moved to adjust the date and format of their upcoming shareholders meetings, smaller businesses were observed struggling with epidemic-caused new market norms.

Of the 2,350 listed companies on South Korea’s benchmark Kospi and secondary Kosdaq, only 311 have scheduled their yearly shareholders meeting in March as of Monday morning, according to market observers.

Taking the lead is steelmaker Posco, slated to hold its 53rd annual shareholders’ meeting on March 12 at its headquarters in Seoul’s Gangnam.

In light of the COVID-19 situation, the event will be held in a virtual, livestreaming format. Stakeholders who wish to attend and pronounce their opinion should submit an application via Posco’s webpage by March 11.

As the current law does not stipuate virtual ballots, participants are required to exercise their rights through electronic voting or proxy voting. In the case of Posco, e-voting takes place from March 2-11 at the Korea Security Depository webpage.

The steelmaker is to bring forward six major items on the agenda this year, including the decision on whether incumbent Chairman Choi Jung-woo may serve another term. The chief has led the steel group since July 2018.

Shareholders will also contemplate naming new executive and nonexecutive directors, including former Environment Minister Yoo Young-sook.

The articles of association may undergo partial changes as the group seeks to kick off an exclusive committee in charge of ESG policies -- the newly rising management paradigm that focuses on environmental, social and governance factors.

“By establishing an ESG committee, we shall develop long-term plans and strategies to reduce environmental damages and industrial accidents, and to ultimately achieve carbon neutrality,” said an official.

Next to the steelmaker is the market’s bellwether Samsung Electronics, which is to have its 52nd shareholders meeting on March 17 at the Suwon Convention Center. The company is slated to post the details for aspiring participants as early as within this week. The application for attendance, as well as e-voting, is to run from March 7-16, officials said.

For the IT giant, the key agenda is to have its latest financial statements approved so that an extra dividend worth 10.7 trillion won ($9.5 billion), or 1,578 won per share, may be distributed. The forthcoming event comes amid the absence of Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, who was taken into court custody in January as the Seoul High Court handed down a jail term of two years and six months over his bribery allegations related to a former presidential aide.

Hyundai Motor will be holding its own meeting on March 24 at its headquarters in Seoul’s Seocho-gu, offering both early e-voting and livestreaming video on the day. Those who wish to either attend the virtual event or to cast an advance vote should make the application between March 12 and 23.

For the automaker, the priority issue is to confirm CEO Chang Jae-hoon as an executive directorate member. In December last year, Hyundai Motor Group reshuffled the chiefs of its key affiliates, following Chung Euisun’s rise as group chairman in October.

Meanwhile, former Chairman Chung Mong-koo will step down from his last remaining official position at the group -- executive director at parts maker Hyundai Mobis -- and wrap up the yearslong corporate management succession to his son.

Also, the carmaker will seek to renew its conventional management transparency committee into a sustainable management body, in a move to expand ESG policies.

SK Holdings and LG Corp. -- the respective holding companies of the nation’s third-largest SK Group and fourth-largest LG Group -- will be holding their general shareholders’ meeting during the final week of March.

This year, LG Corp. will rise to the market’s spotlight as it will confirm the plan to spin off the group’s nonelectronics affiliates and realign them under a new holding company that is expected to kick off in May.

By Bae Hyun-jung (