Taking Another Look at Virtual Stockholder Meetings as the Coronavirus COVID-19 Outbreak Spreads

Guest post by Lisa R. Stark, Sean M. Jones and Sara M. Kirkpatrick of K&L Gates LLP

As proxy season rapidly approaches and concern over the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) increases, U.S. public companies have been weighing risks associated with holding in-person annual stockholder meetings. While the vast majority of U.S. public companies continue to hold annual stockholder meetings at a physical location, in light of the COVID-19 outbreak, many corporations are now considering whether to hold the meeting solely by means of remote communication or to hold a hybrid meeting whereby stockholders may choose to participate either in person or remotely. Notably, on March 3, 2020, Starbucks changed its annual meeting of stockholders from a meeting held at a physical location to a virtual-only meeting due to concerns over the COVID-19. Additionally, on March 4, 2020,The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation noted that as part of its precautions, it was planning for the possibility that its annual meeting may be held solely by means of remote communications.

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