Thai companies pack ASEAN corporate governance rankings

3_CG1A total of 23 Thai companies were ranked in the Top 50 in terms of corporate governance in the region, with two among the Top Five, at the ASEAN Corporate Governance Awards in Manila last week, making the Kingdom the clear leader in corporate governance in the Southeast Asia and providing strong evidence of the steady improvement in standards in the Thai private sector.

The two companies ranked among the Top Five were PTT Global Chemical and Samart Corporation. PTT Global Chemical is a member company of the PTT Group, the partially privatized state energy conglomerate that has consistently scored well on corporate governance and provided robust returns for shareholders. Samart is one of the leading telecommunications firms in Thailand and also has business interests in neighboring countries.

The 23 Thai firms were more than double the total from the next best scoring country, which was the Philippines, with 11 companies in the Top 50. Following the firms from Thailand and the Philippines were eight companies from Singapore, six from Malaysia and two from Indonesia.

The ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Corporate Governance Scorecard was initiated by the ASEAN Capital Markets Forum and is sponsored by the Securities and Exchange Commissions of each member country. The programme was launched in 2012 and evaluates corporate governance standards of listed companies within six of the 10 ASEAN countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

The four other ASEAN member countries – Brunei, Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Myanmar – either don’t yet have capital markets, or their capital markets are in the beginning stages and not yet ripe for evaluation.

A number of Thai corporations have repeatedly done well in the evaluations and rankings during the four years of the Scorecard’s existence. “Since the programme’s inception, Thai-listed companies have been outstanding in consistently applying corporate governance principles in line with the ASEAN standard,” said Bandid Nijathaworn, president and CEO of the Thai Institute of Directors.

The Nation newspaper, which focuses on business news, wrote that the presence of the 23 Thai firms in the rankings “reflects the regional leadership role that Thai-listed firms have played in applying international corporate governance standards in their operations.”

Bandid added that Thai firms had done well “particularly in the areas of the Rights of Shareholders and the Equitable Treatment of Shareholders. Despite the increasingly stringent evaluation criteria, Thai-listed companies have consistently improved their standards and compliance in accordance with the ASEAN standard.”

The strong showing of Thai firms should also increase the attractiveness in general of Thailand’s capital markets, especially the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET). Although Singapore’s stock exchange is the only exchange in the region considered among the top echelon of global stock markets, the SET has been steadily closing ground and challenging the Lion City’s bourse in terms of market capitalization and liquidity.