Streamlining Board Meetings and Communication with Investors
EDENS is a retail real estate owner, operator and developer of shopping centres, grocery stores and local retail spaces across the U.S. Founded in 1966 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., the company operates more than 125 retail properties with offices in Columbia, S.C.; Boston; Charlotte; Atlanta; Miami; Dallas and Denver.
EDENS is a private real estate investment trust with three institutional owners: J.P. Morgan Asset Management, the New York State Teachers’ Retirement System and The Blackstone Group. Therefore, the company’s needs for board meetings and collaboration differ from those of a public company. Not only must the three institutional investors securely access board documents, consents and other information, but they also need to share that access with non-board members within their respective teams.
“The Diligent Board and Leadership Collaboration solution has helped simplify EDENS’ interactions with its private equity investors by centralising all its board materials in one place. As a result, each stakeholder can access the information they need, including historical documents, which streamlines directors’ work and contributes to greater transparency,” said Mark Garside, Chief Financial Officer at EDENS. Additionally, “the Diligent platform makes it easier for EDENS’ geographically diverse directors to complete board consents and other collaborative tasks.
EDENS has been undergoing a digital transformation for more than a decade. As internal processes shifted to digital workflows – including a new shared document management system, the adoption of a cloud-based Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform and the incorporation of digital signatory tools – the move to Diligent for board management was what Garside calls “a natural evolution.”
Prior to adopting the Diligent platform, EDENS and its administrative staff were creating and distributing hard-copy board books for each board meeting and circulating consent documents via email, which presented a logistical and production problem. The company and its stakeholders meet quarterly: three times per year in New York City and once per year at one of the company’s regional offices, where directors can tour local properties, meet with regional team members and learn more about day-to-day operations. Additionally, because EDENS is a private company, it isn’t just board members attending these board meetings; each of the three institutional investors brings a team of additional representatives, all of whom need access to updated board materials, creating a quarterly logistics and distribution challenge for EDENS.
With Diligent, EDENS has been able to incorporate a far more efficient board communications process, sharing critical corporate information with investors in real-time without sacrificing security or resorting to outdated paper-based processes.
A unique challenge of EDENS’ board setup is real-time communication for board consents. Not only does the company need directors to sign off on initiatives after each quarterly board meeting, but periodically throughout the year as well. This had been done via email previously, but the process of distributing and tracking emails was cumbersome and time-consuming.
- EDENS centralised its director communication and tracking of consents and historical actions with the Diligent Board and Leadership Collaboration solution.
- With this centralised reporting platform, EDENS can easily maintain accurate data stores for its stakeholders without manual oversight.
- All of the company’s investors can quickly access the information they need for informed decision making.
Logistics that help, not hinder
EDENS produced and transported dozens of board books to every quarterly meeting, following up after the fact with conference calls for consents and other board actions. By using the Diligent Board and Leadership Collaboration solution, EDENS eliminated this logistical challenge and replaced it with a more efficient board management process that provides directors with access to real-time documents, historical meeting minutes and voting results.
Secure, but open access
Given EDENS’ unique board structure, its investors need the ability to share board documents beyond the directors themselves. With Diligent, any documentation or reports that the company’s private equity owners need to review are easy to access from anywhere and are protected with secure encryption.
Seamless remote work
The fact that EDENS had already adopted Diligent before COVID-19 made the transition to remote board meetings that much easier. The company and its investors were already delivering documents and producing consents on the platform, so the only thing that needed to change during the pandemic was the introduction of virtual board meetings. Everything else at that point was business as usual.
Full support for modern governance
Diligent has helped EDENS live up to its ESG commitments by simplifying governance at the board level, enabling the company to take bold steps toward its sustainability and diversity goals with the confidence that its governance and regulatory needs are met.
- A more efficient board consents process has benefited both EDENS and its investors, encouraging action and driving the board’s ESG goals by eliminating long delays in decision-making.
- The tracking capabilities of the Diligent Board and Leadership Collaboration solution provides directors with a digital and permanent record of all board actions.
- EDENS can maintain full transparency with multiple controlling owners so that all investors have access to all company information.