SingPost names consultant to review governance

SingPost admitted in December an "administrative oversight" when it did not properly disclose director Tay's interest in a 2014 acquisition.
SingPost admitted in December an "administrative oversight" when it did not properly disclose director Tay's interest in a 2014 acquisition.PHOTO: SINGAPORE POST

Heidrick & Struggles appointed as firm comes under fire over several missteps

Singapore Post has appointed Heidrick & Struggles as an independent consulting firm to undertake its corporate governance review.

The postal company, which has been embroiled in an ongoing saga over concerns about its corporate governance standards, said yesterday that the review is expected to be completed before its annual general meeting scheduled in July.

The consultant will work with a "reputable law firm with the appropriate expertise and independence" for the parts of the review that involve legal input and analysis, like the company's governance relating to mergers, acquisitions and divestments and conflicts of interest.

Meanwhile, an internal comprehensive review of the company's corporate governance practices started early last year is ongoing, SingPost said.

The company's latest announcement follows a letter to The Business Times from corporate governance specialist and SingPost shareholder Mak Yuen Teen, who urged the company to inform the market of the identity of the independent consulting firm it appointed for its corporate governance review.

The saga began last December, when the company admitted an "administrative oversight" by not properly disclosing director Keith Tay's interest in a 2014 acquisition.

In response to concerns raised by shareholders and market watchers, SingPost appointed a special auditor to scrutinise the conflict-of-interest issues surrounding the acquisition. It also commissioned a separate review to address any wider governance issues.

But this led to further controversy when shareholders questioned the independence of auditing firm PwC in its role as special auditor.

PwC has been SingPost's external auditor since it listed in 2003.

In response, SingPost appointed a law firm as joint special auditor.

SingPost said yesterday the special audit is in its final stages and the auditors are preparing their report.

Their findings will be shared with the company's audit committee, board and the Singapore Exchange. Shareholders are expected to get a summary this month.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 01, 2016, with the headline 'SingPost names consultant to review governance'. Print Edition | Subscribe