Shareholder Activism in Belgium: The Belgian AGMs and EGMs in 2011

28 Pages Posted: 20 Sep 2011 Last revised: 8 Jan 2012

See all articles by Christoph Van der Elst

Christoph Van der Elst

Tilburg Law School; Ghent University - Department of Business Law; European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

Date Written: September 18, 2011


This paper studies the voting turnout, the voting behavior of large and small shareholders and the resolutions voted at annual general meetings (AGMs) and extra-ordinary general meetings (EGMs) of Belgian listed companies in 2011. The average voting turnout was 49,9 per cent in 2011, down from 51,3 per cent in 2010. The shareholders had to vote on 9 resolutions of the board of directors on average and on 11 resolutions during the accompanying EGM. Only three resolutions are part of all agendas of general meetings. All ordinary resolutions were adopted and average approval rates are above 90 per cent. EGMs rejected two of the 340 resolutions. We conclude that shareholder activism is limited, that voting turnouts are stable and are (only) influenced by the ownership structure of the company. We criticize the position and role of the AGM as instrument for shareholder activism: some items are superfluous while shareholders are not allowed to vote for other issues. We encourage studying the options for shareholders’ participation in the determination of the long term direction of the company, its mission, its expansion strategies, its risk policies and the like.

Keywords: general meeting, shareholder voting, management proposals, shareholder

JEL Classification: G32, K22

Suggested Citation

Van der Elst, Christoph, Shareholder Activism in Belgium: The Belgian AGMs and EGMs in 2011 (September 18, 2011). Tilburg Law School Research Paper No. 002/2012, Available at SSRN: or

Christoph Van der Elst (Contact Author)

Tilburg Law School ( email )

Tilburg, 5000 LE

Ghent University - Department of Business Law ( email )

Universiteitstraat 4
Gent, B-9000

European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI) ( email )

c/o the Royal Academies of Belgium
Rue Ducale 1 Hertogsstraat
1000 Brussels

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