Thursday, September 15, 2011

SGX Amends Listing Rules

Singapore Exchange Ltd (SGX) has amended listing rules to strengthen corporate governance practices and foster greater corporate disclosure. These amendments, to be effective from Sept 29, requires companies to disclose share-pledging loan agreements and the appointment of and changes to legal representatives, among others.

SGX said the amendments would apply to the Mainboard listing rules and to the Catalist rules where applicable. Other key amendments include disclosing whether any of the companies’ independent directors had been appointed to the board of the issuer’s principal subsidiaries based in jurisdictions other than Singapore.

Unless approved by the exchange, no transfer of securities will be allowed during a trading suspension.

SGX said that under specific circumstances, such as where the company was the subject of an investigation of irregularities or other wrongdoing, the exchange’s approval might be required for appointments of directors, chief executive officers (CEOs) and chief financial officers (CFOs).

“The exchange’s right to take action against directors or key executive officers, such as public censure or objecting to their appointments to the boards of other issuers is also codified in this rule,” it added.

SGX also requires a negative confirmation from the audit committee of the issuer on the character and integrity of the CFO. In addition, it requires auditing firms appointed by the issuer to be registered with and/or regulated by the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) or an independent audit oversight body acceptable to the exchange.

“Existing issuers who are unable to comply with this rule will be given one year from the date of implementation of this rule to fulfill this requirement,” it said.

SGX said it was alerted to the practical problems associated with implementing some of the proposed rules. Hence it would not proceed with rules such as requiring a Singapore resident independent director on the board of overseas principal subsidiaries.

“Respondents highlighted the difficulty of sourcing for independent directors to serve on the boards of principal subsidiaries that operate in jurisdictions unfamiliar to a Singapore resident. To have better control and oversight of overseas subsidiaries, we will require issuers to have a robust and effective system of internal controls,” it said. “Disclosure requirements have also been imposed on issuers to announce whether the board of the issuer has appointed its directors to the board of the principal subsidiaries based in jurisdictions other than Singapore.”

It would also not require the appointment of governance adviser (GA) across the board.

“The role of the GA is too widely encompassing to be managed by a single professional and it could also be too demanding to impose on all newly-listed companies, including the well-governed ones,” it said.

However, it added that it retained the flexibility to require such an adviser on a “when-required” basis.

Read more
Singapore Exchange Ltd


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