Address by Mr Shane Tregillis, Deputy Managing Director, MAS, at the International Workshop on Listing of Vietnamese Businesses on Foreign Stock Markets
OVERVIEW OF SINGAPORE’S REGULATIONS
His Excellency, Nguyen Quoc Cuong, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Vietnam
His Excellency, Nguyen Trung Thanh, Vietnam's Ambassador to Singapore
Ladies and Gentlemen
1 It is a pleasure to join you today.
2 These are challenging times for financial markets and regulators around the world. A significant amount of wealth has been eroded and the global market outlook remains uncertain.
3 It is clear that global conditions will remain challenging as the financial crisis is flowing through to the real economy.
4 The region will not escape these global developments and growth in the region will be impacted. However, while growth in the short term will be adversely affected by current global economic conditions, the underlying economic fundamentals in Asia are generally still sound.
VIETNAM SINGAPORE COOPERATION
5 Vietnam and Singapore have enjoyed good bilateral relations and meaningful interactions over the years. Collaboration between MAS and the State Securities Commission (SSC) has deepened significantly. In April last year, we worked with Vietnam’s Ministry of Finance and the SSC to develop a targeted programme for Vietnamese companies interested in an overseas listing.
6 I am happy to hear that it was very well received by participants in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
7 In the rest of my talk, I will briefly share with you our regulatory philosophy and the key principles underpinning our regulatory regime.
8 The Singapore regulatory regime is built on high standards of disclosure, corporate governance, accounting and disclosure practices.
9 Let me go briefly touch on each of these key principles.
ACCURATE, ADEQUATE AND TIMELY DISCLOSURES
10 At the heart of the regulatory framework for the capital markets in Singapore is the Securities and Futures Act (“SFA”). Among other things, the SFA requires every company seeking to raise funds from the public to issue a prospectus which must be lodged with and registered by the MAS.
11 The prospectus must contain all information for investors to make an informed investment decision on the company’s securities.
12 After listing, companies will be required to comply with continuing disclosure requirements under the SGX Listing Rules.
13 These requirements are aimed at placing greater responsibility on issuers and their advisers to meet the high standards of disclosure necessary for the development of more effective market discipline, and to be held accountable for inadequate or misleading information to investors.
HIGH STANDARDS OF CORPORATE GOVERNANCE
14 Sound corporate governance is fundamental to a successful disclosure-based regime. In Singapore, the corporate governance practices of listed companies are guided by the Code of Corporate Governance.
15 Various studies have shown that investors attach a premium to companies which demonstrate sound corporate governance and who are more forthcoming and open with information on their businesses.
16 I believe the 'corporate governance premium' will become more important under current difficult economic conditions as investors increasingly seek a “flight to quality”.
RELIABLE, CONSISTENT AND COMPARABLE FINANCIAL STATEMENTS
17. A disclosure-based framework will not work without good financial reporting.
18 Before making an investment decision, investors will want to know whether the financial information given to them is credible and reliable.
19 The accounting standards by the company and auditing standards used by the auditors are thus crucial in providing investors with the necessary assurance.
20 In recent years, there has been a clear move towards international financial reporting standards. Singapore fully supports this move.
21 High quality accounts provide the confidence and information for informed investor decision making, resulting in lower cost of funding and higher liquidity for issuers.
FOCUS AREAS IN LISTING PREPARATION
22 I have briefly touched on timely and adequate disclosures, good corporate governance and high quality financial reporting standards. Let me now touch on a few areas which I think companies may want to pay attention to if they intend to seek a listing in Singapore.
23 First, companies should maintain proper financial and accounting records. This is the necessary underpinning for the preparation of financial statements in accordance with international financial reporting standards.
24 Companies should also keep information on substantial shareholdings and material transactions entered into with related persons, both of which are relevant for disclosures in the prospectus.
25 Further, issues relating to legal titles to land and properties will also be important during the due diligence exercise and regulatory review process.
26 We understand that the corporate and securities regulation framework between Vietnam and Singapore may be different and companies may experience difficulties complying with both sets of requirements.
27 We are happy to engage in pre-consultations with companies and their advisers to address potential issues. For companies seeking a secondary listing status in Singapore, you may wish to note that we will allow a reconciliation of the financial statements, instead of a restatement, to international financial reporting standards.
28 Vietnam and Singapore have enjoyed good cooperation in facilitating plans by Vietnamese companies to dual-list on the Singapore Exchange as they look to internationalise.
29 With the current challenging financial environment, it remains important that Vietnam and Singapore continue to work together and deepen our bilateral cooperation.
30 This will forge greater regional integration and strengthen the resilience of our financial systems and real economies.
31 Singapore and MAS remain committed to help Vietnamese companies pursue business opportunities and connect to international market participants.
32 I wish all participants an enjoyable and rewarding conference. Thank you.