SGX regulatory body will take hard look at rules

Professor Tan Cheng Han (centre), RegCo chairman, with CEO Tan Boon Gin (left) and regulatory development head Chew Chin Yee at a press briefing yesterday. Prof Tan said he will bring "a pair of fresh eyes" to the review process.
Professor Tan Cheng Han (centre), RegCo chairman, with CEO Tan Boon Gin (left) and regulatory development head Chew Chin Yee at a press briefing yesterday. Prof Tan said he will bring "a pair of fresh eyes" to the review process.ST PHOTO: WONG WEI HAN

RegCo may review requirement for quarterly reports and minimum trading price, throw out redundant rules

The new independent body to oversee stock market regulations may review the requirement for listed companies to file quarterly reports and minimum trading price rules.

Its chairman Tan Cheng Han told a briefing yesterday that the Singapore Exchange Regulation, or RegCo for short, will not be afraid to reassess sacred cows in the rules framework.

Professor Tan, who will lead a five-person board, said he intends to bring "a pair of fresh eyes" to the process.

"Let us ask some questions: Are the rules in place today still necessary, given changing conditions? Are they merely in place because they are intended to meet particular challenges that no longer exist?"

Prof Tan, who was speaking at the Metropolis, where the RegCo and its around 100 staff will operate, noted that a market regulator must avoid "chasing shadows" - implementing tough and disruptive rules to address risks that have a low chance of causing problems.

The RegCo board, he said, will be open to rolling back the rules that are redundant or inflict more compliance costs than benefits.

RULES UNDER SCRUTINY

Let us ask some questions: Are the rules in place today still necessary given changing conditions? Are they merely in place because they are intended to meet particular challenges that no longer exist?

PROFESSOR TAN CHENG HAN, chairman of RegCo, who will lead a five-person board.

The RegCo was mooted last year and officially established earlier this month. It is now preparing to take over all of SGX's regulatory functions around August.

This means the RegCo will oversee matters such as maintaining and updating listing and trading rules, investigating rule breaches and enforcing penalties.

Prof Tan noted that while the SGX has a team of well-informed regulatory experts, the RegCo will be more focused as it will be independent and will not be burdened by "profit and loss concerns" that the bourse may face when juggling the roles of a stock exchange and its regulator.

Established as an SGX subsidiary, the RegCo will be funded by the bourse, but three of its five directors will be independent of the SGX and any listed companies. The board is still being formed.

The SGX has faced criticisms from market participants who see its rules as overly stringent or disruptive.

The bourse is adjusting some of the more maligned regulations, including exempting mainboard companies with bigger market capitalisation from the minimum trading price requirement. A proposal to restore traders' lunch break is also being considered.

SGX chief regulatory officer Tan Boon Gin, who will be RegCo's chief executive, said the new body "wants to do many things better", including stepping up engagement with listed companies and investors.

"We know that the marketplace is sensitive to regulatory changes and we want to signal better and well in advance any major changes in rules and policies," Mr Tan added.

Prof Tan was the dean of the National University of Singapore law faculty and is a board member of the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority, among other positions.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 28, 2017, with the headline 'SGX regulatory body will take hard look at rules'. Print Edition | Subscribe