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Daily Telegraph: Top 10 questions for this year's agm

Well, here we go again. It's the time of year when the chairmen of some of our biggest companies prepare to face their shareholders at this year's annual meeting in the next 12 weeks.
Those of us who cling to the belief that shareholder democracy is still alive at UK plc attend these meetings in the hope that investors will make their boards sweat.
This doesn't always happen of course, not least because the biggest companies ensure that their chairmen are primed for the toughest questions by their investor relations team and highly paid PR advisers.
So, to make the battle more equal, here is a cut-out-and-keep list of the top 10 questions to make the chairmen squirm:
1. Which shareholders are most loyal to you, institutions or individuals?
2. Do you know what percentage of the company's shares is actually owned/controlled by hedge funds?
3. How often does the senior non-executive director meet private investors?
4. Do you think your company's registrar is doing a good job?
5. Why is there so much stuff in the annual report about corporate governance and corporate social responsibility, and not more about strategy?
6. Is your company committed to automatically reinvesting dividends in more shares for private investors?
7. Private shareholders at Shell and Hilton have found themselves facing large tax bills. Does the board agree it has a moral responsibility to offer options that are as tax efficient as possible for the individual investor?
8. If I was having breakfast with Gordon Brown this morning, I would tell him that he needs to cut capital gains tax, inheritance tax and council tax. Which three corporate breaks would the board ask for from the Chancellor?
9. How much of your company's overheads are driven by external regulation?
10. What is your company doing to encourage online voting at annual meetings?
Christopher Hope

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