SGX will look at possibility of online voting at its future meetings

The SGX's virtual AGM on Thursday did not allow for live voting. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) - The Singapore Exchange (SGX) may allow online voting at its annual general meetings (AGMs).

Several directors signalled the possibility on Thursday (Oct 7) in response to a shareholder, who asked during the SGX's virtual AGM if the board could look at allowing investors to vote on resolutions electronically without having to fill in hard-copy forms.

The shareholder also asked if other listed companies could be encouraged to do the same as in-person attendance at meetings is unlikely to resume any time soon.

The SGX's virtual AGM on Thursday did not allow for live voting; shareholders submitted proxy forms ahead of the meeting.

SGX chief executive and executive director Loh Boon Chye said the comments would be taken on board. He noted that there were no live questions at the virtual AGM last year but the format this year allowed for live question-and-answer.

Chairman and non-executive director Kwa Chong Seng said online voting had been discussed but concerns were raised round the integrity of votes.

"Frankly, I should add that we get a significant portion of our votes before the meeting," Mr Kwa said. "So really, the online voting in the session itself is maybe not so critical, but we'll certainly look at it."

Shareholders at the AGM voted overwhelmingly in favour of all the resolutions, including the one for its scrip dividend scheme. Over 90 per cent of votes were in favour for each of the resolutions tabled.

SGX's board and management also answered questions during the 90-minute session.

Shareholders asked how the SGX's derivative business could compete with new products, such those being launched in Hong Kong, which would rival SGX's FTSE China A50 index futures product.

Equities head Michael Syn said the SGX does not compete on a product-by-product basis, but rather seeks to offer the best platform possible for risk management and liquidity.

He likened it to the concept of supermarkets: "All supermarkets might offer bread, they might offer milk. That is not the only way you compete, it is the total service offering that we offer."

A shareholder also asked how local investors can be assured that the Thailand-Singapore depository receipt (DR) linkage announced last month would not end up as another Clob saga.

Clob involved a platform that enabled Singapore investors to trade Malaysian shares in the 1990s. During the Asian financial crisis, the Malaysian government shut down trading, leaving thousands of Singapore investors stranded.

Mr Syn noted that the DR initiative was nothing like Clob. He said: "This is something that has been developed and planned with the securities regulators in both markets, and the exchanges on both markets."

He noted that an ecosystem of brokers, exchanges and regulators will work to ensure that the products are suitable, with liquidity built in an organised way. There would also be focus on education and research about the companies being appropriately channelled into each marketplace.

"There's potential for value creation because there is demand that we understand of in Thailand for Singapore shares, and we believe there could also be demand in Singapore for Thai, or even other regional Asean shares."

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