Asian awards roundup

Feb 01, 2010
<p>Profiles of IR Magazine Award winners across Asia</p>

What do Amsterdam, Dublin, London, New York, Paris, Singapore, São Paulo, Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong have in common? They have all recently hosted IR Magazine Awards events. The IR Magazine Awards have been going almost as long as IR magazine itself: the first event was held in London in 1991 and, 10 years later, the first Asia-Pacific awards were held in Hong Kong.

This year’s Asia awards events took in three cities: Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai. Nearly 500 corporates gathered at all three to applaud the winners from Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and mainland China. 

South East Asia
The first of the Asian events kicked off in Singapore. As in previous years, CapitaLand and SingTel dominated the winners’ roster, winning four awards apiece, including one pan-Asian gong each.

In his capacity at CapitaLand, Harold Woo has often found himself on the winners’ podium. This year, he and his company picked up awards for best IR professional at a large cap, best IR by a CFO, most improved IR and the pan-Asian award for best IR professional. This is the first time IR magazine has awarded an individual a pan-Asian award for IR.

Before joining CapitaLand in 2003, Woo was CEO of a Singapore-based company that specializes in financial services. He has more than 19 years’ stock broking experience in institutional sales, securities trading and investment research. ‘We have always tried to be as responsive as possible to investors and analysts,’ Woo explains. ‘In 2009 we met with more than 600 investors across nine cities and organized events for our retail investors. While we hold primarily a marketing role in our organization, we try hard to provide investors and analysts with a balanced view of the operating environment.’  

The ceremony’s other big winner, SingTel, won awards for best overall IR and best website/webcasting, and saw its CEO Chua Sock Koong pick up the pan-Asian award for best IR. Chua was appointed SingTel’s CEO in April 2007, having originally joined the firm in June 1989 as treasurer. Before she was promoted to CEO, she held a range of positions, including chief financial officer.

‘Stockholders look for a CEO to be both the face of the company and someone who puts across his or her passion for the business. Sock Koong Chua meets these criteria for me, and more,’ said one respondent to the survey that determined the award winners.

Hong Kong and Taiwan
China Mobile had another bumper year, winning four awards: best corporate governance, best investment meetings/one-on-ones, best IR by a CEO and the grand prix for best overall IR by a large cap. It also won the pan-Asian award for best overall IR.

Investors said they were impressed with the company’s corporate vision and strategy. Respondents to the research survey also praised the clear communication of China Mobile’s track record, good guidance and relevant contextual information about relative sector performance.

CEO Wang Jianzhou has been at the helm at China Mobile since November 2004. Investors rate the telecoms company highly for presentations and discussions, with one describing the firm as ‘very clear on the shape of and prospects for the company.’

The award for best IR by a CFO in Hong Kong went to China Unicom’s Tong Jilu, who has held the role since February 2004. He has been a consistent supporter of IR activities in a year that saw China Unicom continue to expand its services into new areas of rural China. Investors praised his reliability and his ability to explain numbers.

Terry Ng from Hang Lung Properties won the prize for best Hong Kong IRO for the second year running. He has been with Hang Lung Group as an executive director since 2001, and says regular contact is the key to winning over investors. His IR team meets investors twice annually on non-deal roadshows to the US, Europe, Japan, Singapore and Australia.

Best overall IR and best IRO at a Taiwanese company went to TSMC. The firm has won the grand prix nine years in a row, ever since IR magazine first began presenting awards in Asia in 2001. Elizabeth Sun is undoubtedly one of the most highly regarded IR professionals in the region. She thinks TSMC’s success is largely down to its values, competitive positioning, business model, strategic plans, execution and results. ‘Always tell the truth, even when it hurts – but tell it well,’ she once told an IR magazine conference. Investors often praise Sun’s professionalism, describing her as ‘informed, capable and responsive – just what we look for in an IRO.’

PetroChina was the biggest winner in Shanghai this year, winning four awards, including best IR by a CEO for Zhou Jiping. It also won the grand prix for best overall investor relations at a state-owned enterprise (SOE), best investment meetings/one-on-ones, and best investor relations for a corporate transaction.

The wins may be due in part to the company’s proactive approach to M&A. At PetroChina’s annual meeting in May, Zhou said the global economic downturn signaled an opportunity to hunt for international acquisitions. ‘Overseas M&A is always a key point for PetroChina’s strategic development and, in the current financial crisis with low oil prices, it’s a very good opportunity,’ he noted. Shareholders didn’t have long to wait: having already completed several strategic deals earlier in 2009, PetroChina scooped up a 45 percent stake in Singapore Petroleum. By September it had finished the buyout.

According to Mao Zefeng, assistant secretary to the board and head of IR at PetroChina, management seizes every opportunity to meet investors. Over the past year, in addition to its two comprehensive earnings results presentations, the firm organized or participated in four international roadshows, 736 one-on-one meetings, 98 conference calls and 46 investor conferences. It was also among the first Chinese companies to adopt digital communications channels such as webcasts so overseas investors could access its presentations.

Ping An Insurance won more plaudits this year, having taken home the grand prix and gongs for best IRO, most progress and best corporate governance in the China Awards last year. This year it won the grand prix for best overall IR at a non-SOE, best corporate governance and best IR by a CFO.

The company’s busy head of IR, Jin Shaoliang, has taken on additional duties as a board member at Fortis, the Belgian asset management group. As China’s first major insurance company to welcome strategic overseas investors, and with half its senior management made up of ex-pat professionals, Ping An is deservedly praised for its excellent corporate governance. The company’s website has extensive information about its governance practices, including details about board members, board committees, incentive plans and risk management.

‘IR is a high priority for Ping An and that shows through in how the team operates with the market,’ noted one research survey respondent. ‘It has been outstanding in explaining the drive into cross-selling and its integrated financial model.’

This year saw the firm take a strategic investment in Shenzhen Development Bank, which was one of the largest transactions ever in China by value. Since its announcement, Ping An has been proactively communicating with investors, regulators and the market at large, gaining recognition as a result.

Secretary of the board Yao Jun says Ping An is committed to IR. ‘One example of this is our decision to publish the contact details of our IR team members on our website,’ he explains. ‘We believe there are only a few listed companies around the world that have made it their practice.’
Ping An has been committed to the development of its IR team ever since its IPO on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2004. It has increased to six the number of IR team members, ‘all of whom have to meet a set of very stringent criteria,’ Yao adds.

The award for best IR by a US-listed Chinese company went to The9. Phyllis Sai, IR manager at The9, attributes her company’s success to the core values of investor communications: consistency, responsiveness, transparency and credibility. ‘We do our best to ensure our company speaks with one voice, avoiding inconsistencies in communications with both our investors and the general public,’ she explains.

In terms of responsiveness, The9 has built a ‘rapid-response mechanism’, handling all requests within 24 hours. To ensure transparency, Sai and her team have hosted many on-site visits and group investor tours, and participated in a full roster of conference calls and investor conferences over the last year. ‘Last but not least, credibility is our most important asset. Without it, even the most promising organizations are destined to fail,’ Sai concludes.

Other South East Asia winners

Best overall IR, small or mid-cap
Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing

Best IR professional, small or mid-cap
Lim Li Chuen, Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing

Best annual report
DBS Group

Best investment meetings/one-on-ones
United Overseas Bank

Best corporate governance
Sembcorp Marine

Best IR for a corporate transaction
Singapore Press Holdings

Best overall IR, Indonesia
Global Mediacom

Best overall IR, Malaysia
Petronas Dagangan

Best overall IR, Philippines
Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co

Best overall IR, Thailand


Other award winners

Hong Kong
Best overall IR, small or mid-cap
Cosco Pacific

Best IR by a CEO
MK Tsai, MediaTek

Best IR by a CFO
Andy Yang, AUO

Best overall IR, small or mid-cap
Chunghwa Picture Tubes

Best annual report
Cathay Financial

Best website/webcasting
Asustek Computer

Hong Kong and Taiwan
Most improved IR
China Resources Enterprise

Best IR for a corporate transaction

China Resources Enterprise, MediaTek

Other China winners

Grand prix for best overall investor relations, small or mid-cap
Tsingtao Brewery

Best IR professional
Zheng Baomin, China Petroleum & Chemical Corp

Most improved IR
Huaneng Power International

Best annual report
Bank of China

Best website/webcasting

China Petroleum & Chemical Corp

Identifying the winners

A common misconception is that the award winners are selected by IR magazine or by an arbitrarily selected panel of judges. In fact, the only judges in these awards are the investment community.

This year, for the first time, IR magazine partnered with Thomson Reuters Extel Surveys, who conducted the IR Magazine Awards research. Thomson Reuters Extel asked analysts and portfolio managers worldwide to vote for the Asian companies that provide the best IR service.

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