In this chapter, we are among the first to investigate the actual course of affairs in AGMs with respect to shareholder forum rights. In the first part of the chapter, we provide descriptive statistics on the use of the right to ask questions and speak in AGMs in the Netherlands. We find that in an average meeting there are around 42 questions and remarks made by around 8 shareholders. Most of these questions and remarks seem to be relevant; with a categorization framework of 14 topics, we could already identify over 50% of these questions and remarks. However, we also find that the average number of shareholders that physically ask questions is only 8. Next, we consider the determinants of the use of these forum rights. In several panel data analyses with a Poisson distribution and a negative binomial distribution, we, inter alia, found that the ‘importance of the meeting’ generally contributes to the amount of questions and remarks and the number of shareholders that actively engage in discussions. We have also found that the number of speakers – and the number of private investors – that actively attend the AGM depends on previous attendance numbers. This may imply that there is a small base of very active (private) investors in the Netherlands. We conclude that the forum function of AGMs is definitely relevant, but given the low number of shareholders that make use of these rights, amendments may be considered.
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