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Accionistas minoritarios

Minority shareholders: A growing role

Major listed companies seek a form of communication with their minority shareholders that is not limited to the AGM. Over 34,000 retail investors have already joined Repsol en Acción, a community created to ensure equal access to information. These are good corporate governance initiatives that seek to respond to a market where the free-float accounts for an average of 55% of the capital among the IBEX companies.
The reform of the commercial code announced by the government will strengthen the rights of minority shareholders. While the reform is being prepared, a number of companies have pre-empted the measures. Repsol has set up an Advisory Committee to act as the formal body responsible for relations between retail investors and the Directors. It also has several channels to "transmit to our shareholders rigorous, transparent and swift information regarding the Company's progress", Repsol's Chairman, Antonio Brufau, said at the recent AGM.

Symmetry in the transfer of information

Accionistas minoritarios
The law already recognises shareholders' political rights to information and to attend and vote at the AGM, but the energy company has also decided to create a minority shareholders club "in order to bring their voice to the day-to-day business", Brufau continued. Repsol en Acción aims to ensure that all holders of shares have access to the same information, regardless of whether they are professional investors or people investing their own resources.

Repsol has 500,000 retail shareholders, 99% of them residing in Spain, widely distributed throughout the country. Overall, minority shareholders own around 12% of the capital of the company, a similar sized holding to that of its majority shareholder. During his speech to the AGM, the chairman of Repsol invited all the members of this group to join the new community.

A community for shareholders

For 18 months now, Repsol en Acción has offered relevant information to minority shareholders through a multi-channel strategy that includes its own website, an App for mobiles and tablets, SMS messages containing leading company news and the quarterly magazine "Accionistas", which has a circulation of 30,000 copies.

This club also offers benefits to its members through the 'Repsol Shareholder' card and promotes events related to the company's business, such as attending the Motorcycle Grand Prix or visits to its most emblematic facilities, ranging from the Repsol Campus to its refineries. Events that aim to strengthen shareholders' sense of belonging and awareness of their company.

Advisory Committee for minority shareholders

Comité Consultivo
In March, the company also created an Advisory Committee formed of 12 shareholders, to allow them, on a non-remunerated and personal basis, to air their views regarding the management of the company. This body ordinarily meets four times a year and its proceedings are public. Its members have been selected from among the 100 members of the shareholders community who submitted their candidacy and is chaired by Miguel Martínez, Chief Financial Officer and Director of Corporate Development and a member of Repsol's Executive Committee.

The Board of Directors of the company decided to create this committee in order to gauge, on a regular basis, the views of minority shareholders. Repsol is thus the first energy company on the IBEX to provide this type of advisory body. In France, a benchmark country in this field, this corporate governance model was already implemented 20 years ago, a model which establishes communication channels between retail shareholders and company management.

In addition to the Advisory Committee, the community has several bi-directional communication channels available, "something highly valued by people who appreciate immediate and multi-channel information," says Clara Velasco, Deputy Director of Shareholder Relations at Repsol. With an average age of 55 years, a common age within IBEX companies, "many shareholders are not digital natives and prefer face-to-face events." The shareholder relations team of Repsol visits four Spanish cities each quarter, coinciding with the presentation of the financial statements. These road shows, "which are like AGMs on a mini-scale", were attended by more than 1,000 shareholders in 2013 and "are very well received because they provide a professional and data-laden response to any question."
The energy company has created an advisory committee to hear the concerns of its minority shareholders

The rights of minority shareholders are strengthened

On average, the company's retail investors hold 487 shares "and the majority view Repsol shares to be a safe investment for their retirement," continues Velasco. The degree of loyalty among retail shareholders is high, as shown by the acceptance of the Flexible Dividend programme, the system of remuneration in bonus shares of the company that is chosen by more than 60% of the capital, including the vast majority of minority shareholders.

The reform of the commercial code that is being promoted by the government shall make law what until now had only been a code of self-regulation, and strengthens the rights of individual shareholders. The proposal includes measures such as reducing to 3% the capital required for the exercise of minority rights in listed companies or reducing to 1,000 the number of shares necessary to attend the AGM. Currently, 17 IBEX companies have limitations on attendance, a restriction which Repsol does not apply.

In the year in which Repsol celebrates 25 years since its IPO, the company is moving towards greater involvement of its shareholder base in the life of the company and towards a transparency which, in the words of Antonio Brufau, "should also be seen as a way to create value for the company."
Retail investors at the company hold on average 487 securities and view Repsol shares to be a safe investment
Last updated: July 2014