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Stewardship code for investors to be launched in Singapore

Investors in Singapore will have a stewardship code detailing how they should use their power as shareholders within the next three months, the Business Times has reported.14 Sep 2016

The code follows similar developments in Japan, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Taiwan, and is due to be launched later this year, Hans Cristoph-Hirt, co-head of Hermes Equity Ownership Services told the Business Times.

Hermes has been involved in developing the principles, Cristoph-Hirt said, alongside an industry working group that has been working on the code for the past year, the Business Times said.

The working group includes the Stewardship Asia Centre, the Singapore Institute of Directors, the Investment Management Association of Singapore and the Securities Investors Association of Singapore.

The group has looked to developments in the UK for its model, Cristoph-Hirt said.

"One of the key developments following the financial crisis in the UK was the formal adoption of a code for institutional investors outlining their important role in corporate governance. They should monitor companies and communicate with them around key business and governance issues, vote their shares, not least to ensure an adequate composition of the board, and if necessary intervene when things are heading in the wrong direction," he said.

While the code is a positive step, Cristoph-Hirt said, such codes assume that investors are "properly incentivised and interested in the long-term success of companies they invest in. Unfortunately this is not always the case. More work on the governance of investors and specifically the relationship between asset owners, such as sovereign wealth and pension funds, and their fund managers is required."

The UK stewardship code was first published in 2010 and revised in September 2012.