Broadening the international base of their shareholders is now a key objective for listed companies around the world – particularly those in the energy sector – as systemic market and political risk have replaced fears over the future of the eurozone as the chief source of corporate anxiety.
The latest annual investor relations survey by BNY Mellon, which received responses from almost 700 companies across 63 countries, showed that 45% now consider expanding their investor base to be a top priority – compared with just 17% four years ago. In the energy sector, this was a prime target for 58% of the respondents.
The trend was also universal in geographical terms. Almost 60% of Western European companies cited investor diversification as a key plank of their current strategy, while the figures for Asia and the Middle East were 54% and 53% respectively.
Christopher Kearns, CEO of BNY Mellon’s depositary receipts business, said this new priority was a clear response to the heightened challenges of systemic risk, political intervention, and increased regulation in world markets. He added that depository receipts remained a “crucial tool” for companies in both OECD countries and emerging markets to source new pools of capital.
Another notable trend was an increase in the proportion of active investors for the second year running. The percentage of respondents reporting a rise in activist shareholders in 2013 rose to 36% from 26% in 2012, with about half of the Asian and Latin American companies in the survey confirming this trend – which may suggest there is a more selective approach to investment in those regions.
BNY Mellon developed its Global Trends in Investor Relations survey as a benchmarking tool for its depositary-receipt clients to see how publicly traded companies manage their investor relations and issues that affect them. This year’s respondents came from a wide range of sectors, including financials, industrials, consumer, technology and healthcare.