Governance round up: South Korea's president promises reform

In the opening remarks of his New Year press conference South Korea’s President, Moon Jae-in promised to push for corporate governance reform through the introduction of a stewardship code and improvements in shareholders’ voting rights.

South Korea corporate governance reform

President Moon Jae-in to tackle governance within Korea’s chaebols

He admitted that the reform of the traditional chaebols or conglomerates was needed and he said it was important from the perspective of returning economic benefits to small and medium-sized businesses and the public in addition to making a transparent economy.

Moon Jae-in said: “The unfair business practices of family-owned firms awarding exclusive contracts to their subsidiaries will be rooted out by applying stringent law enforcement. Evasive tactics by chaebol owners and their families to expand their dominance will be reined in.”

He said this reform was not intended to suppress or shrink business activities. On the contrary, he said it was believed that it would help sharpen the global competitive edge of large conglomerates.

Moon Jae-in also announced reforms within the finance sector in order to eliminate poor practices such as abuses of power and illegitimate lending by financial institutions.

Revised UK Takeover Code published

The Takeover panel has published its updated takeover code following a consultation that began last September. As proposed in September the code now includes tougher takeover rules that companies making an offer should be required to make specific statements of intention with regard to the offeree company’s business, employees and pension scheme.

The panel confirmed these changes in December would take effect from 8th January 2018. The panel has also updated its checklists which must be completed by financial advisers to companies either making a takeover bid or those subject to a takeover to show compliance with the code.

Sierra Leone publishes first corporate governance code

The government of Sierra Leone’s corporate affairs commission has published a draft corporate governance code as part of its bid to boost economic development and embed ethical behaviour across business, the public sector and civil society more generally. This follows the passing of the Public Financial Management Act of Sierra Leone in 2016.

The code is set to apply to companies registered with the commission, as well as other businesses, state-owned enterprises, non-government organisations operating in Sierra Leone, the country’s professional bodies and other organisations such as trade unions.

The code, subject to local adaptions, uses the Organisation for Economics Co-operation and Development’s six core corporate governance principles as a framework. These principles are the rights and equitable treatment of shareholders; the role of stakeholders in corporate governance; disclosure and transparency; the responsibilities of the board and board composition, board Committees and meeting proceedings.

Corporate social responsibility added to Luxembourg stock exchange’s governance principles

The Luxembourg stock exchange has added a requirement for companies listed on its markets to define its corporate social responsibility policy with respect, including to it those responsibilities related to social and environmental aspects.

This rule was added to the Luxembourg’s stock exchange’s existing corporate governance principles in December. This followed the launch of the Luxembourg Green Exchange in September 2016, when a working group was established to revise the corporate governance principles.

Pierre Margue, chairman of the working group and vice-president legal services corporate and finance at SES said: “After a year of intense work, we are proposing a document that encourages listed Luxembourgish companies to abide by the revised rules. The most significant change is the new Principle 9 that introduces mandatory disclosure of the companies’ CSR commitment.”

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