Singapore-listed companies and trusts strengthen corporate governance and transparency

Singapore-listed companies and trusts have charted new heights in governance and transparency this year, a clear reflection of stronger performances in corporate governance and sustainability disclosures practices.

The 2022 Singapore Governance and Transparency Index (SGTI) posted improvements in mean scores for its two categories of listed entities.

In the General Category, the mean score rose to a high of 70.6 points, compared with 68.7 last year. This is the first time the score in this category has crossed the 70-point threshold since the inception of the index in 2009.

For the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) and Business Trust Category, the score increased marginally to 85.3 points in 2022 from 85.0 last year.

The SGTI is an annual study jointly conducted by CPA Australia, the National University of Singapore (NUS) Business School’s Centre for Governance and Sustainability (CGS) and the Singapore Institute of Directors (SID). The study evaluates Singapore Exchange-listed companies on their corporate governance practices as well as the timeliness, accessibility and transparency of their financial disclosures. In addition, the assessment framework has been continuously reviewed and updated to align with the latest leading practices in corporate governance.

Max Loh, Singapore Divisional President, CPA Australia said, “The positive trend in this year’s findings demonstrates the commendable efforts of companies in the journey for good governance and transparency. As businesses begin their recovery from the turbulence caused by the global pandemic, many new and emerging challenges are adding significant complexities to managing businesses. In this context, good leadership and governance – with a focus on accountability, transparency and sustainability – will remain the bedrock of long-term sustainable business performance.”

This year’s index ranked a total of 489 Singapore-listed companies in the General category, and 44 trusts in the REIT and Business Trust category. These companies and trusts released their annual reports by 31 May 2022.

Findings for the General Category

In the General Category, SATS emerged top for the third year running. DBS Group Holdings improved significantly from its 10th position last year to rank second in 2022. Singtel took third place while City Developments Ltd, Singapore Exchange and UOB were in joint fourth position.

Companies fared better in disclosing stakeholder engagement practices, with their mean score in this metric rising three percentage points to 61 per cent. Similarly, average scores for performance in disclosure and transparency rose from 60 per cent in 2021 to 63 per cent in 2022. Disclosure of board responsibilities, upholding of shareholders’ rights, and practices related to accountability and audit all showed smaller improvements, with an increase of one percentage point compared to the previous year.

Findings for the REIT and Business Trust Category

The top five trusts in the REIT and Business Trust Category in 2021 remained in the top five this year, with Ascott Residence Trust retaining top position. Ascendas REIT and Far East Hospitality Trust came in second and third respectively, followed by CapitaLand Integrated Commercial Trust and NetLink NBN Trust in fourth and fifth positions.

This year marks the sixth year of SGTI assessment for REITs and business trusts since the launch of this category in 2017. Their mean scores have shown marginal improvement since 2020, inching from 84.8 points in 2020 to 85.0 in 2021 and 85.3 in 2022. Mean bonus points for good disclosure practices increased from 18.5 points in 2021 to 19.2 in 2022. Mean penalty points for poor disclosure practices increased marginally by 0.3 points to reach 5.4 points in 2022.

Professor Lawrence Loh, Director of CGS, NUS Business School, said, “The improvement in corporate governance, as evidenced by the improving mean scores of the index, can be attributed to two main factors. First, the accountability required by companies on sustainability matters has spurred better corporate governance in recent years. Second, guidelines for corporate governance in Singapore is placing more emphasis on directors’ responsibilities and independence in matters relating to governance and transparency. The SGTI will continue to be an important benchmark for companies in Singapore to measure their performance in the areas of trust and credibility, particularly amongst investors and other key stakeholders.”

Wong Su-Yen, Chair of Singapore Institute of Directors, said, “It is heartening to see the improvements our companies have made despite the disruption to business-as-usual over the past two years. This is a reflection of the growing awareness of the importance of good corporate governance and a testament to the efforts of all the companies in the industry, not just those at the top, to improve their corporate governance practices in Singapore.”

Annex 1: SGTI Scoring Description
Annex 2: SGTI 2022 General Category Top 10 Results
Annex 3: SGTI 2022 REIT and Business Trust Category Top 5 Results
Annex 4: SGTI General Category Mean Score Trend (2009 – 2022)
Annex 5: SGTI REIT and Business Trust Category Mean Score Trend (2017 – 2022)

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