Annual general meetings (AGMs) have a reputation for boring speeches and dry throats, but that perception is not accurate in every case. A number of Swiss companies offer entertainment programs, refreshments and other freebies to AGM attendees.
The fact that holding a single registered share entitled the shareholder to participated in the issuing company’s AGM does adversely affect generosity levels. The danger of attracting freebie hunters and hecklers rather than actively-involved shareholders is a very real one.
Switzerland has its fair share of hobby investors – most of them pensioners – who entertain themselves by traveling the country attending AGMs in search of food, drink and company. AGMs at which shareholders are lavished with gifts in addition to good meals are especially popular. In the best case, even the cost of commuting to AGMs may be covered, as is the case with the Thurgauer Kantonalbank, Valiant Bank and the Graubündner Kantonalbank.
But is attending an AGM even worth your time in Switzerland? Which companies know how to show their shareholders a good time? Find answers here as per a moneyland.ch survey of SPI-listed companies.
AGMs as a culinary experience
All companies which participated in the survey offer refreshments at their AGMs. While thrifty hosts limit these to light refreshments, more generous companies spoil guests with meals of epicurean proportions.
Light refreshments await shareholders of APG SGA, Dormakaba, Edisun Power, Inficon, Leonteq, Schlatter Industries, Swissquote aind Valiant Bank.
More culinary aware investors may prefer the “apéro riche” offered a the AGMs of Tamedia, Allreal (dessert buffet), Autoneum (ongoing casual buffet), Baloise, Berner Kantonalbank, Banque Cantonale de Genève, Goldbach, Investis, Basler Kantonalbank, Liechtensteinische Landesbank (gourmet platters), Mobilezone, Mobimo, Phoenix Mecano, Schaffner, Swiss Life (sausages, potato salad, bread rolls, savory tarts, assorted desserts), Varia US Properties and Warteck Invest (dessert, wine, beer).
The term “buffet” usually describes more substantial fare than that included in an “apéro riche”, although in some cases the terms are used interchangeably. Buffets are offered at the AGMs of Walliser Kantonalbank, Carlo Gavazzi, Cembra Money Bank, Conzzeta, Zurich Airport, Julius Baer, Komax, Panalpina Welttra, SNB (stand-up lunch), SGKB (regional specialities), Sulzer (hot buffet), Swisscom, Vaudoise, Zehnder Group, Adecco (three-course buffet), Arbonia (Olma-Bratwurst with potato salad and dessert buffet).
AGMs for food lovers
Shareholders of some Swiss companies can expect to relax and be properly waited on rather than queuing at a cafeteria-style buffet. Food lovers will likely be drawn to the AGMs of Bank Cler (three-course menu), Bank Linth (three-course menu with soup, Glarner veal sausage with mash and prunes and dessert), Basellandschaftliche Kantonalbank, Burkhalter (two-course meal), Coltene (basic supper), Emmi, EMS-Chemie, Georg Fischer (three-course meal with wine), Graubündner Kantonalbank (entree, main course, dessert, Grisons wine), Hypothekarbank Lenzburg (three-course meal), KTM Industries, Luzerner Kantonalbank, Meyer Burger (lunch), Rieter, SFS Group, Thurgauer Kantonalbank and VP-Bank (three-course meal).
Business typically comes before pleasure at AGMs, with refreshments normally offered after the meeting. Even the most generous hosts only treat shareholders to their well-deserved aperitifs once business has been taken care of.
Other shareholder perks
Some Swiss companies have made a name for themselves by rewarding their shareholders with gifts. Free cable car rides are popular in the AGM scene, as are the boxes of chocolates doled out by Lindt & Sprüngli. Calida thanks AGM attendees with complimentary pajamas. The Neue Zürcher Zeitung gifts a book to each participating shareholder, while many hotels and bathing facilities give attendees vouchers for leisure visits.
Companies which offer gifts in addition to refreshments are few and far between. Graubündner Kantonalbank, Mobilezone and Basler Kantonalbank are among those that do. Georg Fischer lets attendees take home a Schaffhauser speciality, Allreal shareholders get a box of pralines. The Hypothekarbank Lenzburg gives attendees restaurant vouchers, pralines or cigars worth 85 francs. Tamedia gives AGM attendees a 50% discount on annual subscriptions to its finance and economic media.
Swisscom and the Banque Cantonale de Genève host sweepstakes for AGM participants. Cembra Money Bank lets participants get their photograph taken alongside its marketing ambassadors (currently Christa Rigozzi).
Important: In almost every case, gifts are only given to shareholders who attend annual general meetings. Gifts are commonly handed out just before the AGM concludes – encouraging guests to stay until the end of the meeting. Swisscom shareholders too can expect to receive a gift once they have sat through reports and enjoyed their buffet.
Annual general meetings are, by definition, serious events. But some companies take a more relaxed approach. Entertainment is a surprisingly common value add of Swiss bank AGMs. Perhaps this helps to counter the boredom which less-interested shareholders may experience when sitting through lengthy spells of financial jargon.
Musical entertainment is popular, being offered at the AGMs of Autoneum, Berner Kantonalbank, Liechtensteinische Landesbank, Emmi, Zurich Airport, Rieter, Sulzer and the Thurgauer Kantonalbank.
Other artistic presentations are offered at the AGMs of the Banque Cantonale de Genève, Graubündner Kantonalbank, Hypothekarbank Lenzburg, Basler Kantonalbank, St.Galler Kantonalbank and VP Bank.