The issue of the disclosure of price-sensitive information (PSI) by listed companies has been high on the agenda of company secretaries in Hong Kong as they prepare for the enactment of new statutory requirements later this year. The topic of the Institute’s latest Regional Board Secretary Panel seminar, held in Hong Kong in January this year, will therefore be of particular interest. The seminar focused on the different requirements for PSI disclosure in the mainland and Hong Kong.
The HKICS set up Regional Board Secretary Panels in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen in 2010, and these panels have since held regular meetings and seminars to discuss issues relevant to board secretaries on the mainland. The latest seminar in this series was held on 12 January this year in Hong Kong. Three speakers gave presentations at the seminar – two representatives from listed companies discussed the disclosure of price-sensitive information (PSI), and a representative from Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission discussed the latest developments concerning Renminbi financial products in Hong Kong.
This topic was addressed by Mr Gao Wei, Board Secretary, Sinotrans Ltd. Mr Gao was the first HKICS Affiliated Person to complete the International Qualifying Scheme examinations and become a HKICS graduate. In addition to its mainland listing, Sinotrans has been listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange since 2003, so Mr Gao is in a good position to compare the different PSI disclosure requirements on both sides of the border.
Both jurisdictions share similar fundamental principles governing the disclosure of PSI, namely:
- To provide investors and the public information which affects their interests, especially price-sensitive information, is a must.
- The holders of shares of the listed companies shall be treated jointly and equal.
- Directors of listed issuers should act in the overall interests of the shareholders.
Company secretaries in Hong Kong and board secretaries in the mainland perform similar duties in organising and coordinating matters relating to information disclosure. However, there are differences in their official roles and liabilities.
Mr Gao explained that board secretaries are senior management executives who are responsible for co-ordinating the implementation of an issuer’s policies and procedures for the disclosure of information. Perhaps most surprising from a Hong Kong point of view, most board secretaries have the opportunity to participate in their company’s major decisions and bear the same liability as the directors for a failure to ensure the truthfulness, accuracy, completeness, timeliness and fairness of the issuer’s reports. Mainland listed companies are also subject to mandatory filing with regulators, and disclosure to the public, of their internal rules on disclosure management. There are specific requirements for board secretaries’ duties in this respect.
Company secretaries in Hong Kong are not formally required by the stock exchange listing rules to assume the responsibility for organising and coordinating the company’s disclosure affairs, but in practice they routinely play a role in information disclosure similar to their counterparts in mainland listed companies. There is also no mandatory requirement for Hong Kong listed companies to disclose their internal rules on disclosure management and company secretaries have so far escaped liability for disclosure compliance failures.
Hong Kong’s new statutory PSI disclosure regime – which will become effective with the enactment of the Securities and Futures (Amendment) Bill 2011 later this year – does, however, impose a degree of liability on company officers who fail to ensure that a listed company discloses to the public as soon as reasonably practicable any PSI that has come to its knowledge. It is still unclear the exact degree of liability this will mean for company secretaries.
Currently, for dual-listed companies like Sinotrans, the main compliance requirements for the disclosure of PSI are to be found in:
- the PRC’s Securities Act (clauses 67 and 69)
- Section 180 of the PRC Criminal Law
- The Ministry of Public Security of The Supreme People’s Procuratorate, Standard for Jurisdiction of Criminal Cases (2) – section 35, and
- Hong Kong Stock Exchange Listing Rule 13.09.
Listed companies in the mainland are required by the PRC Securities Act (clause 67) to immediately report any major events which might affect their stock price to the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) and their relevant stock exchange. An announcement of the cause of the incident should be made public, along with an explanation of current status and the legal consequences that may arise.
Since 2007, Mr Gao explained, the Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSE) has been monitoring companies’ share price fluctuations more strictly. This followed a case in March 2007 when a mainland listed company made an announcement concerning a large infrastructure contract it was supposedly poised to win. The share price rose 150% in the five-week period after the announcement. Insiders who purchased before the announcement and sold afterwards made significant profits. When the contract turned out to be hot air, the share price slumped. Subsequently, mainland regulators have been tightening their grip on insider trading. In fact, the Shanghai Securities Commission has dealt with quite a few such cases in recent years.
Finally, Mr Gao pointed out that different companies will take different approaches to this crucial issue – PSI will often be more of a challenge for small and medium-sized companies, for example. Assessing what information will be price-sensitive is a judgment call, he added, and companies have to take into account the sensitivity of the industry they are in. He concluded, however, that all companies would be well advised to integrate their business and compliance decisions, improve their internal compliance procedures, make sure that sensitive information is discovered and recognised in a timely manner, and cultivate a corporate culture to continuously disclose information.
Practical issues in PSI disclosure
Mr Xie Bing, Board Secretary, China Southern Airlines Company Ltd, launched his presentation with a brief introduction to the history, business and share capital of his company. Mr Xie then addressed some of the practical issues raised by PSI disclosures in Hong Kong and Shanghai, including the timing and method of information disclosure.
Some confusion surrounds the practical arrangments for PSI announcements for companies dual-listed in the mainland and Hong Kong. This dates back to June 2006, when trading in the shares of Sinopec Shanghai Petrochemicals and its parent Sinopec were suspended on the Shanghai Stock Exchange on news of the privatisation of Shanghai Petrochemicals. The suspension took effect as the Shanghai bourse opened, but trading in the shares of both companies continued until mid-morning in Hong Kong, giving investors time to speculate on the rumoured buyout. The share price of Shanghai Petrochemicals soared as much as 23%. When shares of Shanghai Petrochemicals resumed trading the following day, however, the stock fell almost 10 percent when the company denied the privatisation rumours.
Mr Xie reminded attendees that it is important to ensure simultaneous PSI disclosure in the mainland and Hong Kong. He added that it is vital for companies to:
- introduce a systematic working procedure for PSI disclosure
- ensure close co-operation between relevant company departments, in particular those of planning, finance, investment, and marketing, and
- motivate personnel to ensure information is disclosed as soon as possible.
Mr Xie also shared his personal experience in handling price-sensitive information, he believes that the most important factors for effective disclosure are: a quick reaction, early response, accurate judgment and effective confidentiality.
Renminbi products in Hong Kong
Ms Christina Fung Yee Choy, Director, Investment Products Department, Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission, launched her presentation on the development of Hong Kong’s offshore Renminbi (RMB) market from a macro perspective. She pointed out that there has been strong support from the central government for the offshore RMB market in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is in fact the ideal nurturing ground for the development of offshore RMB business, as well as the eventual internationalisation of the RMB.
Ms Choy pointed out that the development of an offshore market in RMB investment products helps investors hedge against inflation and currency risks. Since the People’s Bank of China announced a pilot scheme for the expansion of cross-border RMB trade settlement in June 2010, RMB trade settlements have been on the rise. By the end of November 2011, RMB deposits in Hong Kong’s banking system amounted to RMB627.3 billion.
Since the National Development Bank first started issuing RMB bonds in Hong Kong in 2007, Hong Kong’s RMB bond market (commonly known as the ‘dim sum’ bond market) has issued a total of more than HK$170 billion in bonds. The daily value of RMB bonds traded in the over-the counter secondary market has reached approximately RMB300 million.
Moreover the bodies sanctioned to issue RMB bonds in Hong Kong have become more diversified. They include PRC government bodies, policy banks, mainland financial institutions, mainland enterprises (including overseas companies controlled by mainland enterprises), Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan enterprises, and foreign enterprises.
Ms Choy outlined the main features of the RMB bond market in Hong Kong, namely:
- issuers are mainly from mainland China
- most of the terms of the bonds are relatively short (90% are for three years or less)
- issuers are mostly engaged in the sectors of finance and industry, and
- only about 40% of the bonds are rated.
Ms Choy also discussed the regulation of RMB retail funds. RMB fund offerings to the public must by authorised by the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC). The SFC is also responsible for the ongoing monitoring of fund management companies. By the end of January 2012, Hong Kong had launched 21 RMB retail funds authorised by the SFC, of which six funds invest primarily in offshore RMB dim sum bonds products which do not involve fund assets returning to mainland China. The remaining 15 were RQFII (Renminbi Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor) funds, which allow qualified RQFII holders to channel RMB funds raised in Hong Kong into the mainland’s securities markets.
In accordance with the provisions of the RQFII pilot scheme, qualified RQFII institutions within the approved investment quota cannot invest more than 20% of the funds raised in investment in stock and stock funds. No less than 80% of the fund raised must be invested in fixed income securities, including various types of bonds and fixed income funds. There will be more RQFII RMB funds available in Hong Kong as the RQFII pilot schemes are expanded.
Ms Choy also addressed the development of RMB listed equity products. The first product of this kind to enter the Hong Kong market – the Huixian REIT – was authorised by the SFC in April 2011. It was traded on the Hong Kong stock exchange after successfully listing on 29 April.
Stephanie Chin, Journalist
The 2008 HKICS report ‘A Comparative Study of Continuing Disclosure in Hong Kong and the PRC: Implications for Cross Border Listings on H-share and A-share markets’ is available on the HKICS website: www.hkics.org.hk.
上市公司股價敏感資料（PSI）披露的問題一直是 香港的公司秘書高度關注的議題, 因為他們要為今年 稍後將定立的新的法定要求作好準備。因此, 香港特許 秘書公會今年一月在香港舉行地區的[董事會秘書專責 小組會議], 特別關注這個主題。研討會的重點在於 探討在內地與香港 PSI披露的不同要求。
香港特許秘書公會在2010年在北京, 上 海, 廣州和深圳成立地區董事會秘書專 責小組, 這些小組定期舉行會議和研討 會, 討論有關大陸的董事會秘書的問 題。最新的研討會[地區董事會秘書研討 會] 今年1月12日在香港舉行。在研討會 上介紹了三個講者, 其中包括兩名上市 公司的代表, 討論了披露股價敏感信息 （PSI）, 和香港證券及期貨事務監察委 員會的代表討論了有關在香港的人民幣 金融產品的最新發展。
本主題由中外運股份有限公司董事會秘 書高偉先生主講, 高先生是香港特許秘 書公會第一位完成IQS考試, 並成為香港 特許秘書公會資深會士的聯席成員, 現 任公會理事會成員。中外運自2003年起 巳在香港聯交所上市, 並有子公司外運 發展在上交所上市, 因此, 高先生是比 較中港兩地對PSI披露的不同要求的最佳 人選。
兩地司法管轄區都有類似的基本原則監 管PSI的披露, 例如：
- 必須向投資者和公眾公開提供影響 他們利益的資料, 特別是股價敏感 資料;
- 上市公司股票持有人應當受到共同 及平等的對待;
- 上市發行人的董事應以股東的整體 利益行事。 香港的公司秘書和中國內地的董事會秘 書, 在組織和協調有關信息披露的事項 上執行類似職責。不過, 其官方角色和 所負責任有所不同。
高先生解釋說, 董事會秘書是內地監管 法規所定義的高級管理人員, 專門負責 統籌執行發行人的政策和信息披露程 序。也許最令人驚訝的是, 從香港的角 度來看, 中國內地大多數董事會秘書有 機會參加他們公司的重大決策, 並承擔
與董事失職時相同的責任, 而不僅是一 名專業人士, 他們必須確保發行人的報 告的真實性、準確性、完整性、及時性 和公平性等。內地上市公司也須強制向 監管機構備案, 以及向公眾披露其內部 披露管理規則, 其中對董事會秘書的職 責有具體的規定。
香港的公司秘書並未被證券交易所股票 上市規則正式要求, 要承擔組織和協調 公司信息披露事務的責任, 但實察上, 他們經常像國內的同業一樣, 在上市公 司的信息披露中起作用。香港的上市公 司也沒有被強制規定要披露其內部披露 管理的規則,從現實看, 他們也不具備內 地董事會秘書所具有的資源。
然而, 香港的新法定PSI的信息披露制 度, 將於2011年末成為有效的證券及期貨 （修訂）條例草案。它並將使公司的相 關人員負上一定程度的責任, 確保上市 公司即時地、合理地、切實可行的對公 眾披露任何PSI的信息。目前, 還不清楚 公司秘書,確切須負的責任到什麼程度。
目前, 像中外運這樣的雙重上市公司, 符合要求PSI披露的主要內容均列在：
- 《中華人民共和國證券法》67條丶 69條;
- 《最高人民檢察院公安部關於刑事 案件的管轄標準的規定》（二）第 35條;
在大陸上市的公司必須遵守“中華人民 共和國證券法”（第67條）即時向中國 證券監督管理委員會（證監會）及其相關的證券交易所通報任何可能影響其股 票價格的重大事件。並應公開公佈事件 的起因, 和解釋目前的狀況和可能產生 的法律後果。
高先生解釋, 最近內地監管機構加大了 對上市公司內幕交易等的打擊力度, 事 實上證監會已經查處多起相關的案例, 比如, 2007年3月一家上市公司既涉及未 及時披露股價敏感信息, 又涉及內幕交 易。該公司發布了一項關於將在安哥拉 贏得大型基建工程合約。股價在公佈之 後的五週上漲了150％。內幕人士在公佈 前購買和公佈後出售, 從中獲得巨利。
等到發現安哥合同只不過是放熱風時, 股價隨即下跌。 最後, 高先生指出, 不同的公司會對這 一關鍵問題採取不同的做法。PSI會對小 型和中型公司更具挑戰, 評估哪些信息 屬價格敏感, 是一種商業判斷問題, 中 小公司更容易受到各種內、外部環境變 化的影響。他補充說, 公司還必須考慮 到他們所處行業以及投資者的敏感性。 他的結論是, 應建議所有公司整合其業 務與決策流程, 並改善其內部合規程序, 確保及時識別出股價敏感信息, 由適當 的人員做出判斷, 並確保所披露信息的 真實、準確、完整、及時, 重要的是, 培育透明、不斷披露信息的企業文化。
中國南方航空股份有限公司董事會秘書, 謝兵先生首先簡單的介紹了中國南方航 公司的歷史和業務, 及該公司的股本情 況。隨後, 謝先生談到了香港和上海PSI 的披露的實際問題, 包括信息披露的時 間和方法等。
一些在內地和香港的雙重上市公司, 對 PSI公佈的實際安排顯得很混亂。這可以 追溯到2006年6月, 上海石化私有化的消 息被披露時, 中國石化上海石化和其母 公司中國石化的股份隨即被上海證券交 易所暫停交易。暫停交易即時生效, 但 上海證券交易所依然開業, 而兩家公司的股份交易在香港一直持續到上午中旬, 這使投資者有時間猜測收購的傳聞。上 海石化的股價飆升高達23％。然而上海 石化股翌日復牌, 該公司否認私有化的 傳聞, 股市下跌近10%。
謝先生提醒聽眾, 最重要的是必需確保 在大陸和香港同時披露PSI。他補充一些 對公司來說非常關鍵的措施：
- 引入有系統的工作程序予PSI的信 息披露;
- 確保密切相關公司各部門之間的合 作, 特別是那些規劃、 金融、 投 資、 營銷部門;
謝先生還分享了他在處理股價敏感資料 的個人經驗, 他認為, 有效的信息披露 的最重要因素是：快速反應, 及早應對, 準確判斷和有效的保密。
香港證券及期貨事務監察委員會, 投資 產品科總監蔡鳳儀女士的演講內容是, 從宏觀角度看香港的離岸人民幣市場的 發展。她指出, 香港的離岸人民幣市場, 已經獲得來自中央政府的大力支持。事 實上, 香港是離岸人民幣業務的理想發 展和使人民幣國際化的基地。
蔡女士指出, 離岸市場人民幣投資產品 的發展, 有助於投資者對沖通貨膨脹和貨幣風險。自從2010年6月起, 中國人民 銀行宣布擴大跨境貿易人民幣結算試點以 來, 人民幣貿易結算一直上升。直至2011 年11月底為止, 在香港的銀行體系的人民 幣存款 總額達人民幣6273億元。
自從2007年國家開發銀行首次開始在香港 發行人民幣債券, 香港的人民幣債券市場 （俗稱“點心”債券市場）已發行債券共 超過港幣1700億美元。每日價值人民幣債 券在二級市場的櫃檯交易已達到約人民幣 3億元。
此外, 批准在香港發行人民幣債券的機構 也越來越多元化。他們包括中國政府機 構, 政策性銀行, 內地金融機構, 內地企 業（包括內地企業控制的海外公司）, 香港, 澳門和台灣地區企業和外國企業。 蔡女士概述了香港人民幣債券市場的主 要特點, 即：
- 大多數債券的條款相對較短（90％ 為三年或更短）
蔡女士還討論了人民幣零售基金的監 管。向公眾發售的基金及必須證監會認 可。同時, 證監會也持續對資金管理公 司進行監管。截至2012年1月10日為止, 香港已推出了21只獲證監會認可的人民 幣零售基金, 其中6只基金主要投資於離 岸人民幣點心債券產品, 不涉及資金回 流內地的問題; 其餘15只,則為RQFII(人 民幣合格境外機構投資者)人民幣零售基 金, 合規的RQFII在港籌得的資金可投資 內地證券市場。
根據內地監管部門RQFII試點辦法的規 定, 獲得RQFII資格的機構在獲批的投資 額度內, 不超過募集規模20%的資金可以 投資於股票及股票類基金, 而不少於募 集規模80%的資金則可以投資於固定收 益證券, 包括各類債券及固定收益類基 金。隨著RQFII試驗計劃擴大, 香港將會 有更多RQFII人民幣作為可用的資金。
蔡女士還談到人民幣上市股本產品的發 展。輝縣房地產投資信託基金是第一隻 這種產品進入香港市場, 它在2011年4月 被證監會授權, 並於4月29日在香港聯交 所成功上市後進行交易。
2008年香港特許秘書公會的報告 “在香港和中國的持續披露比較研 究：為跨境上市, 對H股和A股市場 的影響” 一文, 可進入香港特許秘 書公會網站：www.hkics.org.hk。