Drowning in paperwork, and with postage costs running into the millions with most envelopes returned to sender anyway -- that's a casualty of past regulation for companies listed on the JSE. That is what was required to service the last of the country's about three million individual shareholders. But that paper trail is about to come to an end.
No shareholder shall be left behind. That was the intention of the various pieces of legislation that preceded the Financial Markets Act that came into play in 2014.
The old laws said that for every circular released, interim report published and annual report made available, a listed entity shall send a copy to every individual shareholder by post, via the SA Post Office.
The regulators wanted to make sure everybody remained in the know. But this intention was never fully realised, despite the cost and effort involved for issuers.
Anglo American Platinum, for example, reports that it cost the company R690,000 in 2018 to send by registered post its printed annual report to each of its shareholders within this pool. Company secretary Elizna Viljoen says most of the copies weren't even collected from the Post Office.
But things are about to...