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Singtel, CapitaLand Mall Trust rank top in corporate governance

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This year, Singtel topped the annual SGTI ranking in the General Category, while CapitaLand Mall Trust leads the new Reit and Business Trust Category.

CORPORATE governance standards among Singapore-listed companies have gone up, with average scores under the Singapore Governance and Transparency Index (SGTI) hitting an all-time high.

This year, Singtel topped the annual SGTI ranking in the General Category, while CapitaLand Mall Trust leads the new Reit and Business Trust Category.

The index ranked a total of 606 Singapore-listed companies and 42 real estate investment trusts (Reits) and business trusts that released their annual reports by May 31.

In the General Category, second place went to CapitaLand Limited while joint third place went to DBS and the Singapore Exchange. Keppel Corporation rounded off the top five (see amendment note).

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Some other noteworthy companies which made improvements include SATS (11th) and Olam International (15th) which made it into the top 20, moving up 15 and 21 places respectively.

The SGTI assesses companies on their corporate governance disclosure and practices, as well as the timeliness, accessibility and transparency of their financial results announcements. It is published annually by CPA Australia, NUS Business School's Centre for Governance, Institutions and Organisations (CGIO) and the Singapore Institute of Directors (SID).

Overall, the average score for companies in the General Category is 52.3, the highest on record. This is an increase of 2.6 points from the 2016 average of 49.7.

For the Reit and Business Trust Category, the average score of 60.4 reflected "solid performances in areas such as holding analyst briefings, the timely release of financial results announcements, and the competency of the Reit or trustee-manager by providing detailed profiles of their senior management", according to a joint release.

However, there was also room for improvement. Overall disclosure on stakeholder engagement continues to remain low. Only 8.7 per cent of companies disclosed their anti-corruption programmes and procedures, down from 12.2 per cent in 2016. Disclosure of relevant data on training and development programmes undergone by employees is also at 10.6 per cent, declining from 12.5 per cent in 2016.

Companies were also found to be lacking in reaching out to the investor community. Only 33.5 per cent of companies disclosed the steps that they had taken to solicit and understand the views of their shareholders, down from 42.9 per cent last year.

Furthermore, investor relations teams are also less responsive to queries as timely responses declined from 23 per cent in 2016 to 11.9 per cent in 2017.

Amendment note: Joint third place went to both DBS and the Singapore Exchange, and not just DBS. The article above has been revised to reflect this.

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