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HKICPA applauds outstanding Corporate Governance performers, calls for stronger board accountability to promote investor confidence

29 November 2018

(Hong  Kong,  29  November  2018)  Judges  of  the  19th   Best  Corporate  Governance Awards  (BCGA)  organized  by  Hong  Kong  Institute  of  Certified  Public  Accountants (HKICPA) today called for boards to be more transparent about the way in which they operate and their accountability for business strategy and risk management. With recent market developments, such as the introduction of weighted voting right structures and special arrangements for new economy companies in Hong Kong, as well as more action taken by the Securities and Futures Commission against corporate misconduct and fraud, investors look to effective boards and independent non-executive directors (INEDs) to safeguard their interests.

The BCGA judges highlighted a number of areas where companies could provide more information.  These  include  the  criteria  for  appointing  executive  and  non-executive directors, greater clarity around the reasons for directors' resignations, and more details about board evaluations, as well as more information on the components of director and senior management remuneration packages.

These calls  echo  recommendations  made  in  the  HKICPA-commissioned  Report  on Improving Corporate Governance in Hong Kong to improve board effectiveness and accountability,  strengthen  the  roles  and  responsibilities  of  INEDs  and  ensure  their independence.

The 2018 BCGA winners were selected through a rigorous review and judging process. A total of around 700 annual reports and 450 sustainability reports were put through an initial screening process, followed an by in-depth review of the disclosures and practices of the best candidates, to draw up short lists for the different categories of awards.

This year, the judges have given out 23 awards - three more awards than last year. New awardees were  Shangri-La Asia Limited, Convenience Retail Asia Limited, Tencent Holdings Limited, Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group Limited, The Hong Kong and China Gas Company Limited, The Wharf (Holdings) Limited and China Everbright Greentech Limited (see appendix).  Mr.  Eric Tong,  President  of  HKICPA and  Chairman of  the Judging Panel said, “We hope that all these awards set good, attainable benchmarks for others to follow and that they will encourage more listed companies and public sector organizations in Hong Kong to raise the standard of their governance. It is important to stress  that  effective  corporate  governance  requires  more  than  just  making  good disclosures.  The  judges  take  note  of  a  company's  overall  performance,  including evidence of how corporate governance is being implemented in practice.”

While there were more awards in total this year, no diamond award has been given out this  time,  as  the  judges  felt  that  there  was  scope,  even  for  companies  with  high corporate governance standards, to take stock and consider how they could still do better. The judges see this as an important message that needs to be communicated.

In general, performances in the SSR part of BCGA have improved since the upgrading of the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Reporting Guide by the Stock Exchange.  One  consequence  of  this  is  that  more  SSR  Award  winners  have  been identified this year. "This is a positive outcome that reflects the efforts of regulators and the business sector. The majority of Award nominees adopted the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) standards in preparing their sustainability reports, and the outstanding ones found better and more accessible ways to present their sustainability policies and practices, while meeting the GRI standards," Mr. Tong added.

The HKICPA is pleased to see first award given out in the Non-HSI (Small Market Capitalization) Category. "We sincerely hope that this award will motivate more SMEs to think about steps they could take to develop a sound corporate governance framework and culture, even within the confines of their more limited resources," said Mr. Derek Broadley,  Chairman  of  the  Awards  Organizing  Committee.  "Developing  a  strong governance culture is about having the right mindset as much as anything else", he added.

Patrick Rozario, Chairman of the Review Panel of BCGA 2018, said, "We are definitely seeing  improvements  in  the quality  and  presentation  of  information  disclosure.  For example, more companies are now providing easy-to-read charts and graphics on their board composition and diversity, which is a positive development. Good disclosure is part  of  the  story.  We  would  also  like  to  see  more  concrete  progress  in  the implementation of board diversity policies and measurable targets."

"Another area of interest for the reviewers and judges, given the concentration of family businesses  in  Hong  Kong  was  how  family-run  companies  deal  with  corporate governance challenges such as succession planning and board refreshment. We think it is important to reassure investors that, where appropriate, arrangements are in place for a smooth and progressive transition, both for executive and non-executive directors, including INEDs. Bringing new blood onto the board can be an opportunity to expand diversity, in terms of age, gender, background and expertise."

As for public sector organizations, the HKICPA says that these also need to be more transparent about criteria for the appointment of directors, to distinguish more clearly between NEDs and INEDs, and provide more information about the work carried out by the board and committees.

 

List of Awardees

 

Judges' report

 

 

香港會計師公會表揚卓越企業管治
提倡增強董事會問責性贏取投資者信心


(香港,二零一八年十一月二十九日)香港會計師公會今日舉辦第 19 屆「最佳企業管治大獎」頒獎典禮,評審團建議企業應提高董事會的透明度,包括董事會運作及對業務策略和風險管理的問責性。香港最近引入「同股不同權」架構、對新經濟企業推行特別安排,加上證券及期貨事務監察委員會加強打擊企業失當及欺詐行為,投資者期望企業董事會及獨立非執行董事能發揮功用,保障他們的權益。

大獎評審團指出企業應在多個方面加強披露,包括執行董事及非執行董事的委任準則、更清晰說明董事辭任原因、提供更多有關董事會評估的詳情,以及董事和高級管理人員薪酬細節等。

評審團的建議,與公會委託進行的《提升香港企業管治研究報告》提出的改善建議一致,包括提升董事會的效率和問責性、加強獨立非執行董事的角色及責任,以及確保他們的獨立性。

「最佳企業管治大獎 2018」得獎者均經過嚴格遴選及評審。大會於初步甄選階段共審閱約 700 份年報及 450 份可持續發展報告,然後對表現出色者的披露及實務進行深入評估,得出各評選組別的入圍名單。

今年,評審團共頒發 23 個獎項,較上屆多三個。首次獲獎的企業包括香格里拉(亞洲)有限公司、利亞零售有限公司、騰訊控股有限公司、周大福珠寶集團有限公司、香港中華煤氣有限公司、九龍倉集團有限公司及中國光大綠色環保有限公司(見附錄)。公會會長兼大獎評審團主席唐業銓先生表示:「公會希望藉獎項為機構定下良好而可實踐的典範,鼓勵更多本港上市公司及公營機構提高管治水平。我們亦希望強調,有效的企業管治不單講求完備的披露,評審團亦考慮企業的整體表現,包括實踐良好管治的措施。」

儘管今屆大獎頒發的獎項總數較多,但評審團認為即使管治優異的公司,仍有檢討和改進的空間,故今屆並無頒發鑽石獎。評審團藉此強調,企業及機構需要精益求精。

整體而言,自聯交所提升《環境、社會及管治報告指引》以來,企業逐漸改善可持續發展及企業社會責任方面的報告,故今年該獎項的得獎者特別多。唐先生補充:「這是監管者與商界共同努力的成果。大部份獎項參選者在編備可持續發展報告時,均採納全球報告倡議組織(「GRI」)的標準,而表現優秀的參選者在達到 GRI 標準之餘,更能清晰易明地表達其可持續發展政策及實務。」

公會喜見「非恒指成份股公司(小市值)」組別首次有獲獎公司。大獎籌委會主席 Derek Broadley 表示:「我們希望這個獎項能激勵更多中小企業,即使自身資源有限,亦積極設法建立良好的企業管治框架及文化;而發展優良管治文化最重要一環,是要樹立正確的觀念。」

大獎遴選委員會主席羅柏達先生說:「我們觀察到資料披露的質素和方式都有所進步,例如有不少公司以圖像方式鮮明地呈列董事會組成的資訊,這個趨勢很值得鼓勵。良好的披露固然重要,我們期望企業及機構在推行董事會多元化政策及可衡量目標等方面有更確實的進步。」

羅先生說:「另外,鑑於香港家族式經營的企業數目眾多,遴選委員會及評審團亦關注到家族企業的管治問題,例如繼任規劃及董事替任等。我們認為企業有必要作合適安排,以向投資者確保執行及非執行董事(包括獨立非執行董事)替任時能順利交接。董事會應不時加入新成員,兼備不同年齡、性別、背景及技能的成員,讓董事會運作更多元周全。」

對於公營機構,公會認為要提高董事委任準則的透明度,更清晰區別非執行董事與獨立非執行董事的職責,並要就董事會及委員會的工作提供更多資料。
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