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Key reforms in corporate governance still lacking: Sias - Oct 05, 2007 (ST)

BackOct 05, 2007

The Straits Times / The Business Times News On SPH

Key reforms in corporate governance still lacking: Sias

SPH and Cosco among the winners at the Securities Investors Assn of S'pore's annual Investors' Choice Awards.

By Chua Hian Hou
Oct 05, 2007
The Straits Times

STANDARDS of corporate governance are improving but some companies are still falling down in some areas, said the boss of Singapore's shareholder watchdog.

Best performers

MOST TRANSPARENT COMPANY AWARDS

  • Golden Circle Award: Keppel Corp
  • Hall of Fame Award: SingTel, Singapore Technologies Engineering
  • Multi-industry/conglomerates: Keppel Corp
  • Non-electronics manufacturing: Singapore Press Holdings, SembCorp Marine
  • Technology and electronics: Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing
  • Commerce: Olam International
  • Transport/storage/communications: Singapore Airlines
  • Finance: DBS Group Holdings
  • Construction: Chip Eng Seng
  • Properties: CapitaLand
  • Reits: CapitaMall Trust
  • Hotel and restaurants: Banyan Tree Holdings
  • Services/utilities/agriculture: Singapore Post
  • Sesdaq: BreadTalk
  • Mainboard small caps: Qian Hu
  • New issues: Ascendas India Trust
  • Foreign listings: Cosco Corp

SINGAPORE CORPORATE GOVERNANCE AWARDS

Mainboard:

  • First - Keppel Corp
  • Second - SMRT
  • Third - Singapore Petroleum Company
  • Merit - Singapore Press Holdings, CSE Global

Sesdaq:

  • Merit - Kingsmen Creatives

Mr David Gerald, the president of the Securities Investors Association of Singapore (Sias), said at the group's annual Investors' Choice Awards that fundamental reforms have not been implemented.

He said a Sias survey had found that 87 per cent of companies still do not have an independent chairman while only 58 per cent have separated the roles of chairman and chief executive. Both are considered crucial for establishing better corporate governance.

And only 5 per cent of listed companies disclose directors' exact pay.

And while almost all companies say this pay was linked to performance, only a handful would say what the benchmarks used were, added Mr Gerald.

But he told the gathering of corporate heavyweights, government officials and media at the Raffles City Convention Centre that 36 per cent of companies now have a whistle-blowing policy, up from just 5 per cent last year. Other improvements include more disclosure of relevant director details such as educational qualifications.

The guest-of-honour, Minister of State for Finance and Transport Lim Hwee Hua, agreed that more could be done to weed out companies that are simply 'paying lip service to corporate governance...without embracing the spirit behind these best practices'.

Mrs Lim said a study team comprising government and private sector experts was working on how best to reflect directors' duties in auditors' reports. The findings will be published and feedback sought.

The night's big winners included Keppel Corp, which grabbed the top awards in corporate governance and transparency.

Straits Times publisher Singapore Press Holdings also won multiple awards, a recognition of the company making 'prompt announcements, producing quality annual reports, and holding regular meetings with the media and analysts', said its executive vice-president for finance, Mr Tony Mallek.