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Best Corporate Governance and ESG Awards




The Hong Kong Institute of CPAs successfully concluded its Best Corporate Governance and ESG Awards (“the Awards”) with the presentation ceremony held at a luncheon in the Kowloon Shangri-La Hotel on 6 December 2021. 

 

Guest of honour, Chairman of the Financial Reporting Council, Dr. Kelvin Wong, addressed the audience before presenting the awards to the winners at the 2021 presentation ceremony. In his speech, Dr. Wong congratulated all the winning companies, and recognized the effort and commitment shown by all participants. Amongst others, he shared that ESG has been receiving increasing attention not only from companies but also investors. According to Morningstar, asset flows into sustainable funds in the United States continued at a record pace through the third quarter of 2020 from $22 billion to nearly $31 billion, 40% higher than asset flows attracted to sustainable funds in all of 2019. This potentially reflects the huge demand for high-quality of ESG information from companies which are increasingly reporting ESG information on a voluntary basis to help satisfy investors’ inquiries and provide greater insight into companies’ enterprise value.

 

Mr. Raymond Cheng, president of the Institute and chair of the judging panel, and Ms. Loren Tang, chair of the Awards organizing committee, also spoke at the event. Ms. Tang explained briefly aspects of the Awards’ assessment process. In his address, Mr. Cheng said, among other things: 

 

  • “The world has changed significantly since the Institute was able to last hold this awards presentation event. Although it may be easy to dwell on the negatives… there are also a number of positive developments that we can look at. ‘Building back better’ and sustainability have become a mainstream consideration. The world has agreed to take meaningful action to tackle climate change. Substantive ESG reporting is becoming more common. 

  • "We gave particular emphasis to reviewing entries for our new top category of awards, for the Most Sustainable Companies and Organizations (“MSCO”), and we are very pleased to be able to give out a number of awards in this category. The awardees are entities that have performed to a very high standard in terms of both their CG and ESG practices and disclosures; and that are moving clearly in the direction of integrating overall governance and ESG into their vision, strategy and operations.”

 

He also spoke about a study on ESG assurance conducted recently by the Institute. He noted that given the escalating demand for good quality ESG information, assurance on ESG reports, which can give stakeholders greater confidence about key metrics and information, has become a more frequent topic of discussion. While the Institute found that, overall, among December 2020 year-end listed companies, only a small percentage currently obtained assurance, it was positive to see that the HKEX’s upgraded ESG Reporting Guide mentions the potential value of seeking independent assurance of ESG information.

 

The speakers expressed appreciation for the invaluable contributions of the judges, reviewers, the Institute management, and others involved in ensuring the success of the Awards. They also thanked the supporting organizations and media sponsors.

 

On the morning of 6 December 2021, the president, Loren Tang and Mr. Patrick Rozario, chairman of the Awards' review panel, hosted a media briefing to announce the results of the Awards. They reported on the overall CG and ESG performance of the companies and organizations reviewed and their general strengths and weaknesses, as well as highlighting some of the judges' observations about the winning companies and organizations. Please click the press release to get access to the details. 

 

The Institute wishes to congratulate all the 2021 awardees, in particular the 10 winners of the inaugural MSCO Awards, including CLP, Prudential and the Hong Kong and Shanghai Hotels, winners platinum awards in the Hang Seng Index, large and medium market capitalization categories, respectively. Other MSCO awardees among listed companies, including special mention winners, were HKEX, Standard Chartered, Hysan, Lenovo, Link REIT and Pacific Basin Shipping. The sole MSCO winner in the public sector/ not-for-profit category was the Airport Authority, with a gold award. In addition, awards were given out in separate sections for CG and ESG. In all, the judges recognized 29 companies and organizations. 

 

The full list of winners is contained in the Judges’ Report. The report also includes commentaries on the CG and ESG performance of the winning companies and organizations, information on some recent international and local developments in these areas, and other background information on the Awards.

 

Directors, chief financial officers and other senior representatives of the winning companies and organizations attended the Awards luncheon to receive their trophies. Slides showing examples of the scope and presentation of information extracted from the annual and ESG reports of the awardees were displayed during the presentation ceremony.

 

This was the 21st anniversary of the Awards, which were launched in 2000. Originally called the Best Corporate Governance Awards, the competition focused on CG disclosure. Awards for sustainability and social responsibility reporting were first introduced in 2011. The competition was revamped and renamed in 2021. Changes included the introduction of the MSCO category of awards. 

 

The Awards are among Hong Kong’s most prestigious business-related competitions, setting benchmarks of best practice in CG and ESG for listed companies and public sector organizations, and encouraging improvements in overall standards. They enjoy strong support from the government, financial market regulators, investor groups, the business and professional community and academia. They emphasize the need for organizations to be transparent and accountable and to engage shareholders, investors and other stakeholders, including the communities in which they operate.

 

The focus of the Awards is on the voluntary adoption of standards of practices and disclosures that significantly exceed the minimum legal and regulatory requirements. The judges and reviewers assess information contained in annual and sustainability reports and, where appropriate, other public information, to identify companies and organizations that demonstrate a strong CG and ESG culture, from the top down, and a commitment to long-term, sustainable success. 

 

 

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