Practice Guidance 2: Board Composition and Guidance
There should be a strong and independent element on the Board.
An independent director (ID) should have no relationship (whether familial, business, financial, employment, or otherwise) with the company, its related corporations, substantial shareholders1 or officers, which could interfere or be perceived to interfere with the director's independent judgment.
Rule 210(5)(d) of the SGX Listing Rules (Mainboard)/ Rule 406(3)(d) of the SGX Listing Rules (Catalist) sets out the following specific circumstances in which a director should be deemed to be non-independent:
In addition to these, the Nominating Committee (NC) and Board should consider the following circumstances in which a director should also be deemed to be non-independent:
The above examples are not exhaustive and the NC and Board should determine whether there is any circumstance or relationship which might impact a director's independence, or the perception of his or her independence. Other than the circumstances set out in the SGX Listing Rules, these examples are meant to illustrate situations of likely non-independence and the NC and Board can still consider a director to be independent notwithstanding the existence of any of the above-mentioned situations. However, if the Board, having taking into account the view of the NC, does so, it has to fully disclose the nature of the director's relationship, and why the Board has determined the director to be independent.
Proportion of Non-Executive Directors
A key duty of the Board is to set objectives and goals for Management, monitor the results, and assess and remunerate Management on its performance. Executive directors who are part of Management may face conflicts of interest in these areas. To avoid undue influence of Management over the Board and ensure that appropriate checks and balances are in place, non-executive directors should comprise at least a majority of the Board.
Role of the Lead Independent Director
The lead independent director (Lead ID) plays an additional facilitative role within the Board, and where necessary, he or she may also facilitate communication between the Board and shareholders or other stakeholders of the company. The company should clearly communicate to shareholders and other stakeholders on how the Lead ID can be contacted.
The role of the Lead ID may include chairing Board meetings in the absence of the Chairman, working with the Chairman in leading the Board, and providing a channel to non-executive directors for confidential discussions on any concerns and to resolve conflicts of interest as and when necessary. In addition, the Lead ID may also help the NC conduct annual performance evaluation and develop succession plans for the Chairman and CEO and help the RC design and assess the Chairman's remuneration.
Board Diversity Policy
The Board is responsible for setting the board diversity policy, including qualitative and measurable quantitative objectives (where appropriate). It may charge an appropriate committee (such as the NC) with the task of setting these objectives for achieving board diversity, and reviewing the company's progress towards achieving these objectives.
1 A "substantial shareholder" is a shareholder who has an interest or interests in one or more voting shares (excluding treasury shares) in the company and the total votes attached to that share, or those shares, is not less than 5% of the total votes attached to all voting shares (excluding treasury shares) in the company, in line with the definition set out in section 2 of the Securities and Futures Act (Chapter 289) of Singapore.
2 A director is considered "directly associated" with a substantial shareholder when he is accustomed or under the obligation, whether formal or informal, to act in accordance with the directions, instructions or wishes of the substantial shareholder in relation to the corporate affairs of the company. A director will not be considered "directly associated" with a substantial shareholder by reason only of his or her appointment having been proposed by that substantial shareholder.