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Broadridge to run Henry Schein virtual shareholders' meeting

Employees take COVID-19 precautions as they work at

Employees take COVID-19 precautions as they work at Broadridge Financial Solutions Inc. in Edgewood. The company's services have been deemed "essential" to the operation of stock markets. Credit: Courtesy of Broadridge Financial Solutions Inc.

Long Island's two largest public companies are connecting in a new way because of the coronavirus.

Medical supplies distributor Henry Schein Inc. in Melville will hold its first-ever virtual meeting of shareholders on May 21, with the help of Broadridge Financial Solutions Inc. in Lake Success.

Henry Schein, the region's largest public company with revenue of $10 billion last year, is among more than 1,500 public companies that have hired Broadridge to facilitate their virtual shareholders meetings due to the pandemic. Broadridge, the region's second largest public company with revenue of $4.4 billion last year, is the largest provider of virtual annual meetings. The company also delivers proxy statements and annual reports to investors and tabulates proxy votes.

"Public companies have rapidly shifted to move their annual meetings to a virtual format," said Broadridge CEO Timothy C. Gokey. The company introduced the service in 2009 and  hosted 326 virtual meetings last year.

“A virtual shareholder meeting is different than a webcast or simple Zoom-type meeting,” he said during an earnings teleconference last week. Broadridge verifies shareholders’ status, facilitates their questions to management and conducts the proxy votes – “all in real time,” he said.

 The price for the service ranges from $10,000 to $15,000 per meeting, Gokey said. 

Broadridge isn't the only player. Some stock transfer agents are selling virtual meeting services. But “their offers are much more nascent than ours,” Gokey said.

Say Technologies Inc., a tech startup in Manhattan, last month began offering its virtual question-and-answer service for free to public companies for use in their annual meetings, according to a spokesman. The company has been endorsed by technology entrepreneur Elon Musk and hedge fund investor Bill Ackman.

Separately, Broadridge executives said the coronavirus has impacted employees, particularly the 2,300 who work at the Lake Success headquarters and factories in Edgewood. The company has remained open because its services are deemed "essential" to the operation of stock markets.  

“We have lost coworkers, family members, friends and neighbors,” Gokey said last week. “We also see economic dislocation experienced by so many in our communities here and around the world.”

The company plans to donate $1 million to schools, food banks and other charities in the communities and countries where it operates. It also will match employee donations up to $500,000.

Spokesman Gregg Rosenberg said, “The Long Island donations will comprise roughly a quarter of a million dollars in cash, a slightly larger amount for buying technology for the schools in Edgewood, and then an additional cash amount to double match associates’ donations.”

CORRECTION:  Because of incorrect information provided by a spokesman for Say Technologies Inc., a previous version of this story mischaracterized the company’s service. Say offers virtual Q&A session technology. Elon Musk is not an investor in the company.

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