Singapore companies attained their highest average score in latest ASEAN Corporate Governance Scorecard

Singapore publicly-listed companies have improved significantly in corporate governance. In the latest ASEAN Corporate Governance Scorecard (ACGS), Singapore companies scored 88.3 out of 130 points on average, the highest score to date.

SATS, the chief ground-handling and in-flight catering service provider at Changi Airport, is the top scorer with 119.7 points under the top 100 Singapore companies.

The biennial ACGS is part of an initiative under the ASEAN Capital Markets Forum, a high-level grouping of capital market regulators. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) had appointed the National University of Singapore (NUS) Business School’s Centre for Governance, Institutions and Organisations (CGIO) and Singapore Institute of Directors (SID) as Singapore’s domestic ranking body for the ASEAN Corporate Governance Initiative since 2013.

Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam participated in the latest assessment which began in 2019. The domestic ranking bodies each assessed a list of top 100 publicly-listed companies by market capitalisation in their jurisdictions. The top 35 companies from each country underwent peer review assessment randomly by the domestic ranking bodies of the other countries. The final scores of these companies were derived after discussion by the ranking bodies. This produced a list of companies in ASEAN that had achieved a minimum score of 75 per cent out of 130 points, a list of the top 20 companies in ASEAN, and a list of the top three companies in each country.

Singapore companies put in a strong showing. More than a quarter (26 companies) scored at least 75 per cent of the total attainable 130 points.

Top 10 Singapore scorers

The top 100 Singapore companies assessed had a combined market capitalisation of S$484 billion, which accounted for almost half of SGX’s total market capitalisation as of 31 March 2019. Among these companies, SATS leapfrogged to the first position from its 11th position in the last assessment, while United Overseas Bank and Singapore Exchange improved to second and third positions from their previously held fifth and fourth positions. The remaining top 10 scorers are Singapore Telecommunications, Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation Ltd, Singapore Press Holdings, DBS Holdings, ComfortDelGro Corporation, Keppel Corporation and Sembcorp Industries, in that order.

The top five companies were also among the Top 20 ASEAN Publicly-Listed Companies.

Mr John Lim, Chairman of the Corporate Governance Benchmarks Committee, SID, said: “It is most encouraging to note the significant improvement in average scores for Singapore’s top 100 companies in the latest assessment and we commend them on this achievement. However, our companies should be able to do even better with greater disclosures of their corporate governance practices. Good disclosure is one area where we appear to have lagged some of our ASEAN colleagues in recent years.”

Associate Professor Lawrence Loh, Director of CGIO, NUS Business School, said: “As a member of the ASEAN market, it is important for Singapore to push the corporate governance standards of ASEAN as a bloc, so as to increase the attractiveness of ASEAN to global investors.”

Methodology

The ACGS was developed by a group of regional corporate governance experts from the domestic ranking bodies, with seed funding from the Asian Development Bank. It is a tool for ASEAN companies to improve their corporate governance practices and increase their visibility and investment attractiveness to global investors. The ACGS can also be used by regulators as a reference for reviewing rules and guidelines in order to enhance corporate governance practices.

The ACGS scores comprise two sections — Level 1 and Level 2 scores. The Level 1 score consists of five components: rights of shareholders; equitable treatment of shareholders; role of shareholders; disclosure and transparency; and responsibilities of the board. The Level 2 score is made up of bonus and penalty points.

Singapore publicly-listed companies improved across all sections over the years (see Figure 1).  The greatest improvement was seen in the score for the role of shareholders. It increased by 114 per cent to 12.2 points in 2019 (the year it was assessed) from 5.7 points in 2012. The component on equitable treatment of shareholders had the smallest rise in the scores, registering a 19 per cent increase to 9.3 points from 7.8 points over the same period. The remaining three components also saw a significant rise – a 69 per cent rise in the score for rights of shareholders since 2012, a 42 per cent rise for disclosure and transparency and a 41 per cent rise for responsibilities of the board.

Please refer to the Annex for information on “ASEAN Corporate Governance Scorecard: Singapore Rankings” and “Normalised Level 1 scores for the period from 2012 to 2019”.

Click on the following link for the list of ACGS awardees: https://bit.ly/2LiP8yw

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