General, News

Back in the Hall, BASF Shareholders Are Done With Virtual Meetings

After three years staring at their screens, BASF shareholders returned in person to the Rosengarten hall for the chemical company’s annual general meeting with little appetite for digital events.

In the packed rows facing the stage, spooked investors railed against agenda No. 8, an item on holding hybrid events they felt could open the door to virtual AGMs ad infinitum. Given they have little influence over proceedings, why not see if supervisory board members could just dial-in, Chairman Kurt Bock suggested.

Hendrik Schmidt of DWS Investment capped off a string of shareholders announcing they will reject the offending item. BASF AGMs should be purely physical, and that includes the supervisory board members in the flesh, he said against a background of clapping.

Alongside the grumbles about the share price and the risks of spanking EU10 billion on another verbund in China given the risks in Taiwan, today’s AGM served as a warm send off for Hans Engel, CFO since 2015. It was also a chance for investors to ask what’s the plan for next year, when CEO Martin Brudermueller is scheduled to step down from his already extended tenure. Bock recalled when he first took the top job and Juergen Hambrecht instantly jumped on him about what his succession plans would be. Sitting on Engel’s right was Markus Kamieth, and some smart money is on him being the next CEO.

The topic of Saori Dubourg came up, given all the press coverage surrounding her sudden departure. Bock emphasised it was by mutual agreement and it’s not the first time that’s happened. It does leave BASF with just the one female board member and Brudermueller said he’s working on diversifying management and even wants to bring in non-Germans.

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