SGX gives its thumbs up for e-reports

Singapore-listed companies will soon be permitted to transmit their annual reports and other documents to shareholders electronically, instead of having to mail out hefty hard copies - for example, uploading the annual reports on their websites and alerting shareholders to the relevant links.

The Singapore Exchange (SGX) said yesterday that a majority of respondents to a public consultation supported the move to give companies more flexibility over how best to communicate with shareholders.

E-communication is timelier, more efficient and less costly, so shareholders will benefit in the long run, said SGX chief regulatory officer Tan Boon Gin.

Still, there are conditions that companies have to meet.

"We recognise that some segments of investors may find it difficult to transit immediately to a total electronic regime," the SGX said in its response to the public feedback yesterday.

"To strike a balance between these interests, under the deemed and implied consent regimes, issuers who send documents to (their) shareholders via their websites should send a physical notification to (their) shareholders to notify them of the documents uploaded on their websites."

The physical notification should include details on how to access the document, including the website address, the place where the document may be accessed and the date from which it is available.

When the Constitution of the company specifies that the "deemed consent" regime is in use and the company has given the shareholder the opportunity to choose within a specified period whether to receive electronic or physical copies, a shareholder who fails to state his choice would be deemed to have consented to receiving electronic copies.

"Implied consent" is obtained when the Constitution provides for the use of e-communication and states that the shareholder shall agree to such a mode of communication without the right to elect to receive physical copies.

For notices and documents relating to takeovers and rights issues, however, physical copies must still be provided in all cases.

SGX also issued responses yesterday to feedback on proposals regarding insurance coverage and indemnities for directors, restraint on exercise of voting rights and the treatment of shares held by a subsidiary in its holding company.

SGX will amend the Listing Rules pertaining to e-communication of shareholder documents and other aspects from March 31.

Yasmine Yahya

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 23, 2017, with the headline 'SGX gives its thumbs up for e-reports'. Print Edition | Subscribe