EABL bucks trend with return to physical AGM

Beer production line at the EABL plant in Ruaraka, Nairobi. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

East African Breweries Plc (EABL) has allowed its investors to physically attend the upcoming annual general meeting (AGM), becoming the first listed firm to do so after the Covid-19 pandemic disruptions.

The firm says it will hold a hybrid AGM next month, allowing those willing to come physically to do so. Investors interested in attending virtually will also be accommodated.

“The 101st AGM of EABL will be held as a hybrid meeting (partly physical and partly virtual using electronic means) on Thursday, September 14, 2023, at Safari Park Hotel, along Thika Road,” said the firm in a notice.

EABL, which changed its internal rules to allow for physical, virtual or hybrid meetings with shareholders, bucks the trend of virtual meetings that have been set by other Nairobi Securities Exchange-listed firms.

Many firms have continued with the virtual AGM —a practice that started in mid-2020 when Kenya was hit with the Covid-19 pandemic.

The move has saved firms millions of shillings spent on hotel bookings, travel and lunch, printing annual reports and goodies such as branded umbrellas to gift shareholders.

But many shareholders have been pushing for a return to physical meetings, resisting the realities of the new world where they have to log on to digital platforms to be updated about their firms, make queries and interact with people virtually.

Firms have cited advantages such as convenience and inclusivity, especially for investors outside Nairobi or Kenya as the reasons for favouring virtual meetings.

The hybrid option will help EABL achieve the advantages of a virtual meeting while at the same time satisfying shareholders who have been stuck on physical gatherings.

Many investors have been using physical AGMs to catch up with old friends, share a meal, directly ask questions, take photos with the management and reminisce the times they bought stakes in the companies and even console each other when dividend taps run dry.

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