Marks & Spencer has teamed up with the Quoted Companies Alliance (QCA), the UK Shareholders Association (UKSA) and the UK Individual Shareholders Society (ShareSoc) to call on the business secretary to amend the “outdated” Companies Act in order to strengthen the rights of shareholders.
The “Share Your Voice” campaign has seen the four companies and a number of their executives, including Marks & Spencer chairman Archie Norman, sign an open letter to Kemi Badenoch which outlines the changes they believe need to be made to update company law.
In the letter, the firms stated that the law is “stuck in a 40-year-old time warp”, meaning shareholders in the UK’s listed businesses are struggling to hear from and communicate with their invested companies, and are facing restraints by the use of nominee platforms and paper-based systems.
Proposed reforms to the UK Companies Act 2006 include that of increasing two-way dialogue between companies and shareholders, a standardised technology solution across the sector, digital communications as default, the removal of requirement of hard copies and recognition of digital annual general meetings.
The letter put much emphasis on the digital transformation of the industry, noting that tangible action was needed to be taken within this factor in order to democratise shareholding.
Via the proposed actions, the signatories claimed that investors would benefit from more informed and regular communication, while companies would gain more engaged shareholders, cost efficiencies and dismantling of unnecessary bureaucracy.
It concluded: “In doing so, we will make UK public markets a more attractive place to invest and a more attractive place to list. We urge you to support our Share Your Voice campaign and amend the Companies Act with the five simple reforms we have laid out in this letter.”