Good corporate governance, which includes the rules and practices that govern the relationship between a company and its shareholders and between stakeholders and local communities, ensures transparency, fairness and accountability. Through embracing this concept, Shui On Land believes integrity builds and safeguards stakeholder relationship and shareholder value while achieving healthy and sustainable growth.
William Addison, Shui On Land managing director and chief financial officer, said well-developed corporate governance tools acted as a powerful driving force for running a successful business. 'The higher standards of corporate governance a company attains, the higher level of trust and confidence it can gain from its stakeholders, hence the greater shareholder value it can create,' Mr Addison said.
He said it was fundamental for listed companies in Hong Kong to strictly adhere to the mandatory compliance rules set in place by the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong and other regulatory bodies and adopt the recommended best practices wherever possible and applicable. However, practices or systems alone could not keep the wheels turning.
Mr Addison said Shui On Land recognised that it took genuine commitment to consistently and persistently put the proper operation systems into practice. These were supported by a well-established corporate culture and a strong sense of corporate social responsibility, to manage, maintain and improve the firm's corporate governance performance.
Shui On Land, headquartered in Shanghai, aspires to become the premier property developer in the mainland. It focuses on and has a proven track record in large-scale, mixed-use city-core projects. The company has a presence in major mainland cities including Shanghai, Chongqing, Wuhan, Hangzhou and Dalian.
To ensure its corporate governance practices meet internal and external standards, the company has produced a code of conduct and business ethics which has been reviewed by the Independent Commission Against Corruption to promote and ensure strict adherence to compliance rules.
Focusing on transparency, seven out of nine of Shui On Land's board of directors are either non-executive or independent non-executive and all directors are highly experienced and accomplished individuals in their respective fields. The company has developed detailed written policies on various corporate governance and corporate social responsibility areas which it regularly communicates to its stakeholders.
'We have also put into place an Irregularities Reporting System and Green Office Programme, and formed a Sustainability Development Task Force, which are best practices designed to exceed existing compliance regulations,' Mr Addison said.
The company constantly benchmarks its corporate governance processes against international best practices and apply those that are appropriate and feasible.
He said the awards programme had been organised by two well-established institutions and supported by government and authoritative organisations with a judging panel comprising recognised professionals in the field.
'The Corporate Governance Excellence Awards allow the importance of good corporate governance to speak for itself. The awards provide an equal arena for participating companies from different industries and generations to present how well they have done in corporate governance and explore how they can further improve in this area.'
To Shui On Land, which has only been listed since October last year, the award is particularly meaningful because it acknowledges the company's efforts to move in the right direction.
He said having the appropriate systems in place at an early stage put the company in a competitive position to grow stronger in the future.
The competition judges said Shui On Land showed enthusiasm about corporate governance and treated it as a foundation of its business.
'Steered by a strong and professional board, the company is clearly committed to building systems and practices but also a strong and balanced culture that reflects its corporate governance ethos,' said the judging panel. The judges were impressed with the high percentage of independent non-executive directors both at the board and committee levels that could counter the influences so often found in companies controlled by one shareholder.