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Brokerages start governance checks

BS Reporter in Mumbai | January 23, 2009 09:47 IST

Brokerages in India as well as foreign firms that track Indian companies have started corporate governance checks on the companies that they analyse after major foreign institutional investors as well as other investors raised doubts over the reported numbers, in the wake of the Satyam [Get Quote] Computers scam.

Most recently, Macquarie Securities has put out a list of companies with names of auditors (where the reports are free of qualifications). "We intend to do further work on this going forward, but for now, we are listing the auditors for our entire universe along with a confirmation that the latest results are free of qualifications," says a January 16 report from the brokerage.

The report further states that this is an enormous improvement over the situation 10 years ago when Macquarie had done a similar exercise and found nearly 15 per cent had material qualifications. The list includes 32 companies including HDIL, India Bulls Real Estate, Patel Engineering [Get Quote], Crompton Greaves [Get Quote], Zee News [Get Quote] and several other firms.

Even BNP Paribas Securities has used the Narayana Murthy Committee's recommendation as a foundation and has ranked companies on the basis of 20 parameters across five categories--board composition, audit, compensation, ownership and historical record.

The brokerage firm has done this analysis on the BNP India coverage universe of 60 companies. The top five companies, according to the brokerage firm, are Infosys Technologies [Get Quote], Bhel, Hero Honda, Wipro [Get Quote] and ABB, while the bottom five companies include DLF, India Bulls Real Estate, Jindal Steel, Punj Lloyd [Get Quote] and Lanco Infrastructure.

A note by the firm cautions investors to tighten scrutiny and use objective tool kits to evaluate management and governance quality in companies, before they invest.

Capital markets regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India has already announced a peer review process for companies where all Nifty and Sensex companies will be subjected to a review of their accounting statements. The working papers of the companies' auditors relating to financial statements would be reviewed by peers, chosen from a panel of auditors which Sebi will nominate.

Earlier, when news about the Satyam Computer Services fraud had first broken out, several brokerages had come out with lists of companies that followed stringent corporate governance measures.

In several cases, brokerages have said that the market would begin to price in corporate governance from now on -- a contrast to the pre-Satyam era when issues such as disclosures were never talked about.

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