May 5, 2020 / 6:52 AM / a month ago

Australia tweaks company laws to allow virtual AGMs

MELBOURNE, May 5 (Reuters) - Australia will allow companies to hold fully virtual meetings and will legalise digital signatures to smooth business disrupted by the coronavirus crisis, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said in a statement on Tuesday.

The changes will be valid for six months starting from Wednesday May 6.

“The changes being announced today will allow companies to convene annual general meetings, and other meetings prescribed under the Corporations Act, entirely online rather than face-to-face,” Frydenberg said.

“The changes will also give businesses certainty that when company officers sign a document electronically, the document has been validly executed,” he said.

Meetings must continue to provide shareholders with the opportunity to put questions to board members online and also vote. The changes will also allow company officers to sign a document electronically compared to previously when signatories were required to sign the same physical document.

“This will ensure that documents are able to be properly executed at a time when ordinary business operations have been disrupted.”

The changes are part of the government’s response to the coronavirus crisis.

Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

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