Annual Report sense – finally!

23 08 2007

I received some mail today from Telstra, the Australian telecommunications giant. I have shares in them (which I really should get rid of… they’ve never done well). In amongst all the puffery about how good they are was a slip of paper that was a welcome relief. To quote from it:

“Recent amendments to the Corporations Act allow companies to provide their annual reports to shareholders on the Internet rather than by hard copy. … commencing from the 2007 Annual Report we will no longer mail you a hard copy unless you specifically ask us to do so.”

At last! Some sense. An opt-in clause versus an opt-out one, and a massive saving for companies in not having to get these glossy tomes printed and mailed out. An even better saving for those shareholders who receive these missives because it’s required by law but who just throw them out without doing more than skim them (if that).

I only own a few small parcels of shares in a couple of companies, but it still bothers me to get these 100+ page documents every year. They all try and outdo each other every year in the glossiness, paper stock, fancy wancy bindings etc. So I’m very pleased that the lawmakers have seen fit to enter the 21st century and allow alternative corporate reporting mechanisms.

Of course, elements of the printing industry that have survived only because of this cash cow may be squealing in pain right now. But I’d suspect many ‘Mum and Dad’ shareholders may be cheering these changes.


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