Sats, CapitaLand Reits top Singapore-listed companies in governance and transparency as standards reach new high

In the index's general category of companies, Sats took over at the top from Singtel, while in the Reit and business trust category, CapitaLand maintained its dominance. ST PHOTOS: KEVIN LIM, KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - The corporate governance standard of Singapore-listed companies reached a new high this year despite challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, with Sats and three CapitaLand Reits topping their respective categories in an index released on Tuesday (Aug 4).

The Singapore Governance and Transparency Index (SGTI) assesses listed companies on their corporate governance disclosure and practices, as well as the timeliness, accessibility and transparency of their financial results announcements.

The overall SGTI surged to an all-time high of 67.9 points in 2020, compared with 59.3 last year, reflecting the companies' strong commitment to improving corporate governance and sustainability disclosures.

"It is heartening that the assessment process of listed companies for SGTI 2020 was not significantly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic," said Associate Professor Lawrence Loh, director of the National University of Singapore Business School's Centre for Governance, Institutions and Organisations (CGIO). The SGTI is published annually by CPA Australia, CGIO and the Singapore Institute of Directors (SID).

Mr Loh said the necessary disclosures by companies were largely made well and on time, in line with Singapore Exchange regulations.

"On an even brighter note, companies have achieved remarkable progress as seen in the all-time high of the index score - this reflects the strong momentum driven by the ongoing regulation enhancements," he added.

In the index's general category of companies, Sats took over at the top from Singtel, which had led the ranking for the previous five consecutive years.

Most of the top 10 companies in this category saw slight dips in their scores, with the exception of Sats, City Developments and Keppel Corporation, which improved their tally. The most notable improvement was made by SingPost, which jumped 20 places to 12th this year.

In the real estate investment trust (Reit) and business trust category, CapitaLand maintained its dominance, with its subsidiaries CapitaLand Commercial Trust, CapitaLand Mall Trust and Ascott Residence Trust in the top three positions.

Netlink NBN Trust, Cromwell European Reit, Manulife US Reit and OUE Commercial Reit each jumped over 20 spots to the top 10 in the category.

For the general category, companies recorded an average score of 67.9, an increase of 8.6 points year on year. Mean scores have been improving consistently since 2011, with the largest jump recorded this year.

In the Reit and business trust category, the mean overall score increased by 6.2 points year on year to 84.8.

This year's index ranked a total of 577 Singapore-listed companies in the general category, and 45 trusts in the Reit and business trust category that released their annual reports by June 30, 2020.

SID chairman Tham Sai Choy said: "The global pandemic has renewed focus on sustainability reporting and on taking a long-term view. As companies reassess their business models and strategic outlook, this is an opportune time to recalibrate and emerge stronger from the crisis."

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