Governance in Focus: Be Good, Because Investors Are Watching More Closely

What do Martin Sorrell’s pay cheques, the controversial closure of the British retailer BHS and a mass brawl at a Kuwaiti shareholder meeting all have in common? It sounds like the beginning of a bad joke. But while the three cases are very different, each throws a spotlight on an undeniably serious topic: corporate governance. The field, defined as the system by which companies are directed and controlled, has a relatively brief history in the UAE and in mature markets such as the United Kingdom, and its principles can vary by country. Despite that, corporate governance codes, such as those outlined in an updated UAE resolution issued in late April, have certain themes in common. Most set standards of accountability and transparency for publicly listed companies, outline the need for independent non-executive directors and female board members, have guidelines on audit committees and relationships with shareholders, and set best practices on remuneration policies. Corporate governance is designed to ensure companies steer a steady ship, and crucially, help investors to make informed decisions.

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