Shareholders query Singapore Exchange over company, regulatory matters

People pass a Singapore Exchange sign outside its premises at the central business district in Singapore  on Aug 12, 2015.
People pass a Singapore Exchange sign outside its premises at the central business district in Singapore on Aug 12, 2015.PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - Shareholders grilled the Singapore Exchange (SGX) over company as well as regulatory matters at its annual general meeting (AGM) today.

Activist investor Mano Sabnani, among the more than 600 shareholders and proxies who attended the three-hour meeting, asked SGX to take a more interventionist approach in directing listed companies in the transition towards the 20-cent minimum trading price requirement, set to kick in for the mainboard next year.

The resulting share consolidations by affected firms have created uncertainties for both the companies and investors, and SGX should be more prescriptive with the relevant guidelines, Mr Sabnani said.

He also questioned on the progress made by regulators including SGX and the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) in the investigation of potential market manipulation that led to the penny crash three years ago. As the investigation drags on, market sentiments will be affected, Mr Sabnani cautioned.

In response, SGX chief regulatory officer Tan Boon Gin - who was the CAD director before joining the bourse in June - said the white collar crime buster fully appreciated the urgency of the matters, and no resources were spared in the investigation. But Mr Tan declined to share further details on the matter.

Retiree Tan Keng Sooi, 75, complained that investors focusing on penny stocks have been hurt by SGX's decision to impose a minimum trading price.

He was also unhappy over the fees SGX pays to its chairman Chew Choon Seng.

SGX paid Mr Chew $750,000 for the past financial year, inclusive of a budget spent on car and driver.

In response, lead independent director Kwa Chong Seng said that the chairman fee has not been raised for several years, adding that Mr Chew was paid that amount because he is barred by SGX from taking up board seat in another firm.

Mr Chew's fee is also comparable with other companies' chairmen, including those at SingTel, Keppel Corp and SMRT, Mr Kwa stressed.

All 13 resolutions were passed with over 95 per cent of vote in favour, including those approving the chairman and director fees.

A final dividend of 28 cents per share will be paid out, unchanged from last year.