IROs from 20 countries converge on New York
BNY Mellon’s headquarters next to the World Trade Center is a veritable United Nations of IR this week as more than 80 IROs from around the world gather for a global depositary receipts (DRs) seminar. Australia, Peru, Lebanon, Qatar, Indonesia – practically every continent is represented, with especially large delegations from China and Russia.
This is the first year BNY Mellon has expanded its DR training seminar to include IROs from beyond the Asia-Pacific region. The bank also holds local training events in locations like Cairo, London and Moscow, as well as depositary receipt issuer conferences (DRICs) in exotic locales like last year’s event in Phnom Penh. The next DRIC will be in Jaipur, India in October, with mostly Indian DR clients, followed by one in Hanoi, Vietnam in December for greater China issuers.
After kicking off this training week with an overview of the capital markets – happily not as pessimistic as expected, noted one participant – and a studious look yesterday at the technicalities of US listings and governance, today’s focus was on investor relations.
Jay Davis, who has been in charge of IR for Macquarie Infrastructure Company since it listed on the NYSE in 2004, gave a well-received primer on IR. ‘An effective IR officer should ensure equities are fully and fairly valued at all times,’ he began. A gifted communicator, Davis emphasized going beyond simply meeting the requirements of disclosure to using pictures, charts and engaging text.
Next up was a panel of IROs with contrasting perspectives. Curtis Schenck, the point man for English-speaking investors in NTT DOCOMO, talked about establishing an investment brand for a Japanese company with no consumer brand in the US. Also on the panel was Carson Wolfer, IR manager from Qatar Telecom. Despite its name, the company has operations in numerous markets as well many listings – nine and counting. Wolfer revealed that plans are in the works for listing on the Baghdad Stock Exchange.
King Chung, assistant vice president on the institutional investor team in the Americas division of Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, which listed on the NYSE in November 2010, talked about supporting the Tokyo-based IR team while also focusing on short-term debt financing. He addressed the challenge of handling investor concerns about Japan after the March earthquake and tsunami and ensuing nuclear crisis.
BNY Mellon has received plaudits for its annual survey on global trends in investor relations, now in its seventh year. More respondents than ever participated this year – 650 companies from 53 countries filled out the survey between June and the beginning of August – and the full report is slated for release in October.
In the meantime, Herston Powers, vice president in BNY Mellon’s depositary receipts group, provided a teaser of some of the results. For example, 70 percent of US respondents want more regulation of high-frequency trading and dark pools; 84 percent of western European companies publish a CSR report; nearly 20 percent of respondents from Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa have some kind of corporate blog or use social media; 70 percent of Latin American companies aim to increase IR in emerging markets centers; and 80 percent of Asia-Pacific companies have their business strategy laid out on their IR websites. A lot more information, including key stats on IR budgets and compensation, is promised in the final report.