Thailand has retained its regional top spot for corporate governance in the latest annual survey of 529 listed companies from five Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) countries compiled by the Asean Capital Markets Forum (ACMF).
Four Thai companies ranked in the survey’s top 10, and 18 in the top 50. High scores were achieved by positive assessments of shareholders’ participation rights at annual meetings, election procedures for directors and the protection of minority shareholders.
The 100 Thai firms in the survey improved their score with an average of 75.39, up from 67.66 in the 2012 survey. Malaysia and Singapore were runner-ups with scores 71.69 and 71.68 respectively, followed by Indonesia and Vietnam.
Airports of Thailand was the kingdom’s top performing company followed by Bangchak Petroleum and Bangkok Insurance. PTT Chemical Public Company ranked ninth and had the largest market capitalization. Ranked by sector, finance was judged to have the best level of corporate governance.
Based on public domain information, including stock exchange filings and annual reports posted online in English, the ACMF survey also scored the role of stakeholders, disclosure and transparency, and board responsibilities.
Despite the favourable overall assessment, Thailand’s shortcomings were noted by some observers. “There still are several areas that Thai listed firms need to develop to enhance credibility of the Thai market, especially in corporate governance standard improvement, both in form and substance [and in] reporting progress,” said Bandid Nijathaworn, president and chief executive (CEO) of the Thai Institute of Directors Association (IOD).
While Thai companies scored well for annual general meeting notices and related disclosures, the survey indicated that more written policies, activity reports, figures and statistics need releasing. There have also been recommendations that companies pay more attention to their websites as effective investor communication channels and use more English to attract foreign investment.
Cash-flow based metrics now feature prominently alongside traditional revenue measures of business performance in the key figures or financial summary pages of any public company.
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