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Business

Germany Wants Shareholder Meetings Full

The German government is considering introducing legislation that would allow companies to pay higher dividends to investors who attend annual shareholder meetings, a justice ministry spokesman said on Wednesday. "It's just one of a number of ideas on the table at the moment," the spokesman told AFP. "But it's still at a very early stage. There's no timeframe for it to become law as yet." The proposal comes amid concern that bigger, institutional investors such as hedge funds might use low attendance at annual shareholder meetings to push through their own agendas. Earlier this year, London-based hedge funds engineered a boardroom coup to oust the management of stock exchange operator Deutsche Börse. Attendance at German annual shareholder meetings has been falling for many years. According figures compiled by the DSW association for small shareholders, the proportion of share capital represented at the annual shareholder meetings of all 30 blue-chip DAX companies has fallen from an average 60.95 percent in 1998 to 45.87 percent in 2005. Car parts maker Continental saw the lowest attendance rate this year, with just 23.55 percent of its shareholders turning up at the annual shareholder meeting. By contrast, the highest attendance rate was Henkel, maker of Persil washing powder, with 78.31 percent.

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