Since 18 December 2020, the Board of Directors of Italgas has adopted a “Policy for managing dialogue with all Shareholders”, with the aim of further promoting an open and ongoing dialogue with all Investors, also in line with the recommendations of the new Corporate Governance Code of the Italian Stock Exchange. This very “high” policy explains the dialogue between Italgas and Shareholders in its principles, management methods and contents. It has been designed after careful analysis of the engagement policies of the main institutional investors that have holdings in the Company’s share capital. Lastly, it is a policy that has already led the essential features of the Investor Relations throughout 2020, despite it was only formalized in December.
Despite the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, even in 2020 Italgas held several virtual meetings through digital platforms, both with institutional investors who are in the shareholders register and those who are interested in a better understanding of Company’s equity story with the intent to become shareholders.
With the aim of cultivating established relationships and selectively developing new ones, in the past year Italgas’ senior management participated to a total of nine conferences and several roadshows, following the release of quarterly earnings and the approval of the Business Plan.
Around 90% of the institutions met are based abroad: in particular, one-third are headquartered in the UK, over one-fifth in North America and 9% in France.
The range of investors met covers a large number of countries:
The Investor Relations events held in the virtual format made it possible to have even more numerous and frequent meetings with Australian and American portfolio managers, also given the attention of Italgas representatives in ensuring adequate access to counterparts whose time zone is very different from that of Italy.
In any case, even investors on the buy-side hope to resume meetings in person as soon as possible, with the aim to maximize their effectiveness.
A particularly important event was the Annual Shareholders’ Meeting, which was held on 12 May 2020 under completely unprecedented conditions. Despite the ongoing health emergency required Shareholders to participate exclusively by means of the Company’s designated representative, Italgas offered the possibility to follow the Shareholders’ Meeting in live streaming on the Company’s website. Despite all, the percentage of voting capital at the Shareholders’ Meeting remained at a high level: 748 shareholders attended, representing 77.2% of the share capital. This compares with an attendance of 78.3% recorded at the 2019 Annual General Meeting.
Italgas also held conference call presentations, with webcasting accessible to all on the Company’s website, for the release of full-year 2019 results, as well as for all the quarterly results of 2020. To keep the financial community informed at a time of uncertainty, on 11 June 2020, Italgas also held an update presentation on its 2020 performance. On 30 October 2020, the senior management illustrated targets and guidelines of the new 2020-2026 Strategic Plan, again through a webcasting of the conference call.
The introduction of the MiFID II directive, which is in force since 2018, even in 2020 has produced a general reduction in the equity analyst coverage. Nonetheless, Italgas stock continues to be followed by a large and qualified group of sell-side analysts. Compared to other utilities with similar market capitalization, the coverage of Italgas shares stands out not only in terms of numbers, but also for the presence of pan-European brokers that boast excellent rankings.
Leveraging on continuous transparency and proactive engagement of analysts, Italgas can count on the unsponsored coverage of the following 18 brokers:
The effort to provide financial market participants with the greatest transparency is also reflected in digital communication activities. The most important European survey that assesses listed companies on the basis of stakeholder requests, i.e., the Webranking by Comprend, awarded Italgas with 81.4 points out of 100 – a “5-star” score assigned only to eight Italian companies. Such result indicates a further improvement compared to that of 2019. It also allowed Italgas to enter the top-10 of the “Europe 500” ranking, which assesses the online communication of the largest European companies by market capitalization.
Therefore, the five principles – Transparency, Promptness, Equal treatment, Promotion of corporate purpose and Compliance – contained in the new Investor Engagement Policy approved by the Board of Directors on 18 December 2020 have already had a concrete and significant application in the Investor Relations program executed over the past year.
The extraordinary effort required due to the limitations on physical meetings imposed by the pandemic, at a time when it has been essential for investors to be updated on the Company’s performance given the unprecedented context, has proven how crucial it is for Italgas to stick to these principles.