Duke Energy Is Afraid to Meet Shareholders in Real Life

Duke Energy is taking the coward’s way out.  Their annual meeting this year will be virtual only.  “This year we are excited to hold the Annual Meeting exclusively online for the first time via live webcast.”  They then go on to say: “This format enables us to use technology to open our Annual Meeting to shareholders from all over the world and improve our communications with them. We want to make sure that all of our shareholders have the opportunity to participate in the governance of the Corporation, and the live webcast will help accomplish this…The online format will also allow us to communicate with you in advance of the Annual Meeting via a pre-meeting forum that you can enter by visiting http://www.proxyvote.com. Through the use of our pre-meeting forum, you can submit questions in writing in advance of the Annual Meeting. As a result, we will be able to answer more questions than we were able to answer at previous meetings by posting written answers online to any questions that we do not have time to answer during the Annual Meeting.”

We strongly encourage shareholders to take advantage of this opportunity and submit their questions online and we will post any worthwhile exchanges. We also encourage investors to raise their concerns with the lead director:

Michael G. Browning  (mbrowning@browninginv.com)

or by mail: c/o Ms. Julia S. Janson
Executive Vice President, Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary
Duke Energy Corporation
P.O. Box 1414
Charlotte, NC 28201-1414

We cannot help wondering whether the presence of significant shareholder proposals on this year’s proxy, including proposals on disclosure of lobbying expenses, a report on climate change impact, and the public health risk of the coal business may be the reason that the executives and board members do not want to look shareholders in the eye. It also makes us skeptical of this statement in the proxy: “Your participation as a shareholder is important to us.”

One Comment Add yours

  1. The online format allows them to screen questions and choose the ones they want. It also removes an opportunity for shareholders to meet with each other and with employees of the company. Those are some of the most useful interactions I’ve had… even leading to formation of a 13D filing and group. They want to treat shareowners like players at the track instead of as owners of the company.

    Companies should webcast live annual meetings. That way they can get all the advantages they crow about without losing the undeniable benefits of an in-person meeting. Those contacting Ms. Janson should request a hybrid meeting for next year.


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