Nearly three years since the pandemic onset, travel rules and social restrictions have eased in many locations. As a result, investor relations professionals in the Asia-Pacific region have the chance to return to in-person meetings and events, helping to reinforce their relationships with the investment community.
In this Q&A with two Nasdaq clients enrolled in both IR Insight & Advisory services, we speak with Nathan Burley (NB), head of IR at Australian telecommunications company Telstra, and Olivia Wang (OW), director of IR at Hong Kong-listed Yue Yuen Industrial, to hear about their IR programs, engagement plans, ESG strategy and more.
Can you tell us a little about your company and IR program?
NB: Telstra is Australia’s leading telecommunications company. Our IR program includes four key priorities to maximize long-term shareholder value: provide timely and accurate information to the market; engage with the market broadly; represent Telstra investors to management; and be a trusted partner for strategic decision making.
The first two priorities are externally focused and reflect the role IR plays creating channels of communication between the market – debt and equity – and Telstra management. The last two priorities are internally focused and represent the role IR plays conveying investor views to management and influencing Telstra’s strategy.
OW: Yue Yuen, alongside its parent company, has more than 50 years of experience in footwear manufacturing, making the shoes for prestigious athletic, outdoor and casual brands around the globe.
We’ve been listed on the Hong Kong main board since 1992 and continue to enhance investor engagements to adapt to the ever-changing investment environment here in Hong Kong.
Our IR team of five covers two companies, Yue Yuen Industrial and its retail subsidiary, Pou Sheng International, overseeing quarterly results briefings, monthly revenue announcements, news monitoring and ESG areas, and engaging effectively with investment communities and ratings agencies.
What does your IR calendar look like, especially in terms of international travel and outreach?
NB: Our IR program provides opportunities for management to engage with the market and build long-term credibility. The company’s half- and full-year results announcements include a three-day management roadshow with domestic institutions and the sell-side, and we further engage with retail brokers and sales desks following results announcements.
Before the annual general meeting, our chairman engages with the market, and senior management host a retail livestream. We typically target one investor day and one sustainability-focused event annually. In addition, we engage with international institutions through a combination of management and IR attendance at conferences, NDRs and virtual meetings. We target three to four days every six months for our CEO or CFO to engage with international institutions.
OW: In Hong Kong, quarantine rules are still in place, and the market has not really reopened until two months ago. Companies are very excited to travel again. In November, we went to Singapore for Morgan Stanley’s Asia Pacific Summit for the first time in three years, and we anticipate more active investor interactions over the next few quarters.
We are excited for the potential to go on the road for a long-haul roadshow and a reverse roadshow, such as a factory visit, in 2023. With the return of travel, we’ve seen a spike in these areas that we hadn’t seen before as flight and hotel costs have skyrocketed. That being said, it remains important for us to think internationally.
How do you typically identify new investor targets? What trends are you seeing in investor engagement?
NB: We target new investors mostly through a combination of monitoring our register, identifying over and underweight institutions by region, talking to offshore sales desks and attending Australian equity focused conferences.
There is increased in-person engagement after two years of Covid-interrupted contact. Engaging with the market broadly is a key priority for our IR program. Although there is generally a preference for in-person meetings, we have seen virtual meetings as a useful alternative for more investors compared to pre-Covid.
OW: We used to rely more on brokers and analysts who are familiar with the investment community, and they could arrange a very efficient calendar for us. But, after the implementation of MIFID II, it has become harder for investment firms to use the services provided by brokers.
Some companies, including ourselves, and investors have started to be more proactive in reaching out to each other. But it’s not always easy. We need an efficient platform to analyze all the information about fund movements and interactions to best formulate outreach plans. I recommend Nasdaq IR Insight as an effective tool that helps us be more proactive and scientific in terms of targeting.
What regulatory changes in your market are IR teams most focused on?
NB: Telecommunications is a heavily regulated industry. We are most focused on regulation that impacts Telstra and telecommunications more generally in Australia, such as the need for sustainable wholesale pricing. We also keep close to ESG-focused disclosures, and we are incredibly proud of the advances we’ve made to shape Telstra as a responsible, sustainable, and community-minded organisation.
OW: There are lots of regulatory updates to monitor, with areas most important to IR focused on ESG. Hong Kong first introduced ESG guidelines in 2013. More recently, mandated rules came in for the financial year 2021.
There are also new guidelines on the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures to be implemented by 2025, which demonstrates how the Hong Kong government wants to level up and enhance its ESG commitments. One advantage is that our parent company is listed in Taiwan, where the authorities have already lifted up ESG standards, plus the ambition to become one of the most responsible suppliers. We are constantly enhancing our ESG achievements to meet each of our brand customers’ objectives, so we are ahead of the curve in that sense.
What are the main questions you are receiving from investors and analysts related to ESG?
NB: The recent high profile cyber breaches have been a wakeup call for everyone and resulted in many questions. We’re all very focused on cybersecurity, and it’s not something anyone can forget about or take for granted. Climate change is also a focus given the current weather cycle and its impact on our infrastructure, with governance and human capital also continuing to be important ESG topics for us.
We were certified by the Australian Government’s Climate Active program as carbon neutral in 2020 and remain on track to achieve our other two climate targets – to reduce absolute emissions from 2019 by at least 50 percent by 2030 and to allow renewable energy generation equivalent to reach 100 percent of our consumption by 2025. We were also ranked top in the Asia-Pacific and third globally in the 2021 Digital Inclusion Benchmark.
OW: Key topics of conversation range from human capital to sustainability. We are the only footwear supplier accredited by the Fair Labor Association, which is important to investors and other stakeholders. Another area of focus is climate change - in fact, we have a commitment to reduce emissions by 46.2 percent by 2030, compared to 2019 levels. We are also one of 200 companies ranked as a climate leader in 2022 by the Financial Times.
Helping clients around the world tell their best story and drive valuation, Nasdaq IR Intelligence serves as a trusted advisor, advocate, and provider of software and analytics. The ever-changing macroeconomic environment demands an increased use of tech to navigate markets. To help companies get ahead and start the new year strong, IR Insight recently released new capabilities with optimized search functions, sophisticated targeting screens based on investor targeting and outreach, and additional ESG data points, as well as enhanced EMEA and APAC shareholder reports with a beneficial owner view and increased flexibility for dual-listed securities.