Only a third of companies comply with code
JUST over one in three Irish listed companies are fully compliant with the Combined Code on Corporate Governance, according to a new report that has renewed calls for a single, independent regulator for plcs.
The number of listed companies claiming full compliance with the Combined Code has dropped from 51pc in 2009 to just 36pc this year.
A third of companies refused to disclose if they had reviewed their chairman's performance and a third failed to disclose the terms of appointment for their non-executive directors.
The massive 64pc of companies that are non-compliant is problematic for the Government as it battles to rebuild credibility in the financial and banking system and to prevent further damage to Ireland's reputation amongst the international investment community.
But accountancy firm Grant Thornton, which yesterday published its fourth annual corporate governance review of 36 ISE-listed companies, says that the huge drop in compliance does not necessarily indicate poorer performance on the part of plcs.
"The most significant theme in this year's report is that companies are being more transparent and are giving better information," said Paul Raleigh, Grant Thornton's managing partner.
"Overall, the greater transparency is, in itself, an improvement and it is preferable that companies and boards admit to areas where they could improve, rather than taking part in a technical box-ticking exercise that asserts full compliance with the combined code when that is not the case.
"However, the fact that so many are non-compliant should be of concern to shareholders."
The annual review includes disgraced lender Anglo Irish Bank, which was delisted and nationalised last year following a spate of scandals.
In its annual report for 2008, the bank had claimed full compliance with its corporate governance obligations.
It is now the subject of several criminal and civil investigations, including by the Garda Fraud Squad and the Financial Regulator.