Transparency and an easy-to- understand format of investor-related information contributed to the high quality of the First Pacific Company annual report, gold winner in the general category of the Best Annual Reports Awards of the Hong Kong Management Association (HKMA). The strong showing was nothing new for the company, which has consistently ranked high, often finishing among the top two in the 10-year history of the award scheme. The adjudicators noted that the investment and management company had gone to great lengths to explain its strategy to investors in its 1999 annual report. They praised the clear articulation of the company's restructuring efforts and the coherent design, which made the report easy for investors to follow. Howard Gorges, chairman of the award judging panel, said: 'They were particularly good this year in strategy, explaining the changes going on in the organisation because they are involved in different countries and facing quite a bit of upheaval in some of their markets. 'They explained what they are about, the challenges and the problems they face.' First Pacific describes itself as an investment and management company with interests in consumer products, telecommunications, real estate and banking. Investments are primarily in Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Hong Kong. First Pacific shares are listed in Hong Kong and available in the United States as American Depositary Receipts. Mr Gorges said design innovations, such as a checklist to see if the company had met strategic goals, allowed investors to get up to speed on the company's status without having to interpret a complex set of numbers. Rebecca Brown, First Pacific's executive vice-president of group corporate communications, said the document was designed to communicate the firm's ongoing restructuring efforts at a time when regional markets were on a rocky ride. 'It's our prime marketing tool,' Ms Brown said. 'We are a complex and diverse company, and having something that links us together in a cohesive manner is enormously helpful in telling the First Pacific story. 'We started a restructuring process back in 1998, and through this process we have completely refocused our businesses on companies that are cash generative, or have the potential to be cash generative, and are market leaders in their home market.' Noting innovations in this year's report, Ms Brown mentioned the use of word pairs to communicate the company's strategic vision. To describe the management structure, the report uses the phrase 'stability, agility' to communicate the idea of a well-grounded and progressive executive group. 'We've done a spread to identify what we believe are First Pacific's strengths,' Ms Brown explains, noting that the play on word pairs, such as first/forward, ideas/ideals, runs throughout the report. Other changes included a shift away from the traditional emphasis on business operations towards a closer reading of the individual companies within the group. Ms Brown said the new focus more accurately illustrated the group's business operations. She said the report still contained the traditional approach - the numerical breakdown between different business operations - to satisfy analysts who may apply a number of different methodologies when examining the company. To jazz up the pages, the report employs several high-quality photo spreads that 'articulate in image form the management philosophy', Ms Brown said. The content was generated in- house, while the graphic design and conceptual development was completed with the assistance of New York-based design firm Addison. 'We don't produce annual reports to win awards,' Ms Brown said. 'It's great that we do, and we are always mindful of disclosure and where we can improve our reports.'