Chennai: The Covid-19 pandemic has taken out the charm of annual general meetings (AGM) with the one-day Sultans of the corporate world -- retail shareholders -- being confined to their homes.
With listed companies holding their AGMs online owing to the pandemic, the business of various auditoriums, meeting halls, sweet shop chains, logistics providers and others have been impacted.
At the AGMs one can meet different kinds of shareholders-the sincere one raising pertinent questions, the AGM hoppers and the indifferent ones demanding different variety of sweets.
While some genuine shareholders would raise pertinent and uncomfortable questions about the company and employee shareholders would immediately spring up to praise the management.
At times there would be some unforgettable faux pas like a shareholder who instead of asking the management 'when do you plan to restart production' blurts out 'when do you plan to start reproduction'.
The other standard shareholder statements would be to increase dividend, issue of bonus shares.
Many a shareholder would keep mum only to do their morning physical exercises at the hall by raising their hands to pass the resolutions moved by the management.
But once in a decade or more, one will be fortunate enough to witness an interesting shareholders meeting where the one-day Sultans would grill the corporate emperors.
And one such AGM this city saw was that of Best and Crompton's held in 1990s.
At that time the company was part of Vijay Mallya's UB Group and was not doing well.
Disillusioned workers and shareholders of Best and Crompton dubbed their chairman Mallya as an NPA (non-performing asset) and also asked him to resign from the board.
Placards with slogans against Mallya added more colour to the scene.
However, due credit has to be given to Mallya at the way he conducted the meeting.
At one point, a smiling Mallya even told the shareholders to speak one-by-one so that he could hear them all!
The historic AGM was adjourned as no business was transacted due to the noisy scenes.
Mallya later sold Best and Crompton to an Indonesian group.
Starting July every year, the AGM season would begin in the city during which many auditoriums and other meeting halls would be bustling with activity.
The sweet shops too would do good business then, as many corporates would be sourcing several kilos of Mysurpa boxes to be distributed to shareholders at the venue here.
One can see sweet box collectors at AGMs. Some shareholders coming to the AGM venue sign in the registers, collect the sweet box and hop on to their vehicles to reach some other AGM to collect yet another sweet box.
There have been instances where shareholders at the AGMs exhorted the management to give them a different sweet as they got bored with Mysurpa.
Some clever sweet box collector shareholders used to transfer a few shares in favour of their family members so that they could collect more sweet boxes.