Mark Hynes - thoughts on corporate disclosure

Opinions on changing rules, changing best practices, and their effect on investor relations officers.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

What a week for disclosure and IR – its not the silly season after all

Just when the world takes off on holiday, a whole series of announcements are made on different transparency themes. Where to start?

Yesterday the SEC held a webcast to announce its conclusions on the use of corporate websites as a disclosure means for Reg FD purposes. In the latest move it announced that under certain circumstances, companies could rely on their websites and blogs to meet their Reg FD public disclosure requirements. It will “as soon as possible” provide detail of what “under certain circumstances” means shortly. However it does look as if public companies will have choices in how to disseminate their news.

For me the most surprising thing was the extent to which the SEC is grabbing the web 2.0 agenda. With twittering and all the rest the SEC is determined to stay on top – if not ahead - of change.

This blog – and remember my affiliations – will comment on those details when they are published.

Meanwhile the FSA – as discussed in this blog – continues to get tough on market abuse. The 2 announced prosecutions in one week have focussed minds on City banks and brokers. However they also have significant implications for listed companies. For example, internal controls on inside information and on the length of insider lists have already been targeted by the FSA.

At the same time, IR professionals will want to have a look at 2 new studies out this week on changes in the investment community that they target. First according to research from the Financial News and, separately, from Pensions Strategies, pension funds continue to devote more resources to fixed income investment as they face up to the impact of turbulent stock markets. Alternative assets, such as hedge funds and private equity, have also seen a surge in popularity among pension funds.

And Sovereign Wealth Funds continue to attract interest. According to new State Street research, they could collectively own more than 5 percent of the world's major companies over time and their desire to diversify into equities would push real bond yields to rise. Time to look at that road show schedule?


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