In companies listed on Italian regulated markets, minority shareholders representing certain thresholds of share capital - ranging from 0.5% to 4.5%, as annually established by CONSOB [the Italian Securities and Exchange Commission] with regard to each issuer - are entitled to submit a list of candidates for the appointment of at least one member of the board of directors and for the appointment of the chairman of the board of auditors. However, to date, more than 64% of listed SMEs state that they do not have minority representatives on their boards of directors (data from Assonime) due to the non-submission of lists of candidates by minority shareholders. The situation is essentially the same for the board of auditors. As is known, the absence of minority representatives within corporate bodies can easily cause potentially abusive behaviour by the controlling shareholders, and can ultimately cause a decrease in the value of the issuer and a decline in the stock price. In such a context, the Italian Association for the Exercise of Shareholders' Rights (Associazione italiana per l’esercizio dei diritti degli azionisti, AIEDA) came into being with the aim of promoting and encouraging the activism of the shareholders of Italian listed companies and the submission of lists of candidates for the election of independent minority representatives within corporate bodies, including through soliciting proxies, which are an instrument that, to date, have not been used substantially by minority shareholders and little used by the same controlling shareholders. In particular, AIEDA engages in the activity of soliciting proxies to vote in its capacity as promoter, for the submission of lists of independent candidates selected by a scientific committee, internally constituted within AIEDA, on the basis of criteria which ensure compliance with high standards of integrity, professionalism and independence, paying particular attention to the level of expertise concerning the role in relation to which each candidature is submitted.