AT&T barring investors to present resolution at annual meeting

Activist investors blamed AT&T Inc of not being taking their calls for its upcoming annual meeting scheduled to be held on April 24, highlighting their worries that the conducting the event online because of coronavirus outbreak would likely be limiting the role of shareholders in the event. 

Both concerning activists, one of whom was a high-profile private investor and other was an ex-staff of AT&T, said they were in efforts of presenting proxy resolutions at the meeting but the telecommunications pioneer came abandoning those efforts.

Company’s original plan was to conduct the meeting in Dallas but like hundreds of other companies shifting their events since March to cyberspace to fight virus spread, AT&T also moved its event to an online-only format. The activists and several specialists in corporate governance said that for the first time they have been hearing that a company is trying to stop investors from introducing their resolutions.

Daphne Avila, AT&T’s spokesperson, rejected the news of company preventing investors to participate in the meeting and said that it is asking the supporters of shareholders resolutions, who are three in numbers, to provide their comments in writing enabling company to read them out during the meeting.

Providing written comments will allow AT&T to address the issue in a better way through voting and then proceed further into the event, especially business updates from CEO during discussion and questions from shareholders, she said, adding that the resolution supporters could submit their questions before the meeting as other investors can do.  

I think management at AT&T is looking at the online-only format as an opportunity to have a shareholder meeting where they have to worry about pushback from participants, said Jeff Rechenbach, a retired AT&T employee and union official in Cleveland.

The activist investors are in efforts of presenting resolution emphasizing the need of an employee representative to be added to AT&T’s board.