This study provides data on the attendance of shareholders and voting behaviour in listed Belgian companies between 1994 and 2003. It empirically analyses the relationship between the size of the corporation, the ownership structure and the attendance rate and describes some of the voting issues tackled at the general meeting. Further, the article presents the regulatory evolution of general meetings since 1994 and analyses whether the legal reforms have significantly influenced the attendance behaviour of shareholders.
On average, 57.2 per cent of the shares were represented at the ordinary general meeting. The total stake of identified shareholders and the stake of the concert parties positively influence the attendance. The average number of shareholders attending the meeting is 38. The size of the corporation and the number of concert parties significantly increase the number of attending shareholders.
The number of attending shareholders increased significantly between 1994 and 2003, while the attendance rate did not. The idea and importance of shareholder activism seem to trickle through, but the patterns that determine corporate policy have not changed. Small shareholders have the opportunity to ventilate their opinions, but the controlling shareholder and the board of directors make the decisions.