Stefanie Yuen Thio comments in The Edge: “Regaining investors’ confidence”

TSMP Law Corporation Joint Managing Partner Stefanie Yuen Thio was quoted in a The Edge story (paywall) published on 30 December 2019 that reviewed the SGX RegCo’s 2019 initiatives.

She commended SGX RegCo for being bold to change the way it operates. In particular, the consultation paper on scrapping MTP reflects an “openness” of the regulator to do a “180-degree turn” when a listing rule has resulted in unforeseen negative outcomes.

“That sends a strong message that SGX [RegCo] is not afraid to reverse tack when it’s the best thing for the market — a mature and confident signal,” she said.

On a separate issue of enforcement, she said there should be a greater joint effort by other regulators with SGX. They include the Monetary Authority of Singapore, Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority and Commercial Affairs Department of the Singapore Police Force. Although each agency has a different but overlapping jurisdiction, as a joint investigating team, their first response will give them the ability to move, investigate and enforce beyond their individual jurisdictional borders.

“In price-sensitive situations, the speed of response is critical to protecting shareholder value and limiting downsides,” she said.

On empowering minority shareholders, she proposed that the law be amended to put power in the hands of minority shareholders, since the regulators keep saying that retail investors should not expect the government to bail them out when corporate failures happen. The regulators also say that retail investors should arm themselves with more investor knowledge so that they invest in securities of the appropriate risk profile.

“All that is true,” she said. “But when things go bad, such as when there are defalcations by top executives or the board has been derelict in their duties, let’s empower minorities to go after them. We need to change the law to give them access to company information in order to evaluate and take legal action. We should also allow class-action lawsuits.”

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