Raising the issue of land grabbing at bank AGMs

Banks & Land Grabs, Campaigning for change, Food & climate change article written on the 10 Nov 2014

Some pointers for those wanting to take action

A number of Oxfam supporters with shareholdings in the big four banks have approached us for information about the upcoming series of big bank Annual General Meetings (AGMs) being held in the lead-up to Christmas. Below is a Q & A about these AGMs, and how bank shareholders can take further action to stop land grabs.

What is an AGM?

Every year, each of the banks holds an AGM. These often last about two hours. At their AGMs banks give an update on their business over the last year. Bank shareholders also get an opportunity to vote on key decisions about how the bank operates. This includes the appointment of bank directors and resolutions on bank activities. Bank shareholders also have the opportunity to ask questions about the bank’s operations.

How can I raise the issue of land grabs at an AGM?

Being public forums, asking questions at an AGM is a powerful way for shareholders to make their concerns on land grabbing known. Not only because banks need to provide a response on how they’re handling the issue, but also it ensures other shareholders hear about this land grabbing. (Other shareholders at the AGM will be particularly interested in how land grabs may impact bank profits and increase risk on their investments.)

Importantly, asking questions at an AGM also means very senior members of the banks’ management are reminded of the depth of concern amongst their stakeholders (customers and shareholders).

If you can’t attend the AGM, you can submit a written question up to two days beforehand. This is an important way to show the bank shareholder concern about this issue. The Chairperson will often address frequently raised questions in their speech.

How do I get into the AGM?

To enter the AGM you need a document confirming that you are a shareholder. The bank provides this when it sends out information about the AGM. If you don’t have this document, or have questions, you can contact the bank for assistance.

Can someone go to the AGM on my behalf?

If you are a shareholder you can appoint someone else to attend the AGM on your behalf. You’ll need to register your proxy appointment 48 hours before the AGM. If you want advice on how to do this you can contact your bank or get in touch with Oxfam for more information.

When are the AGMs?

  • Commonwealth Bank AGM, 12 November 2014, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.
  • Westpac AGM, 12 December, 2014, Brisbane Convention Centre.
  • ANZ AGM, 18 December 2014, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.
  • NAB AGM, 18 December, 2014, Brisbane Convention Centre.

To learn more about how to submit a written question or attend an AGM you can contact your bank head office and ask for assistance. For pointers on what to ask, contact Shona Hawkes at shonahawkes@oxfam.org.au