Oasis Statement on its stewardship responsibilities under the Hong Kong Stewardship Code
The Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (“SFC”) published its “Principles of Responsible Ownership” (the “Hong Kong Stewardship Code” or the “Code”) in March 2016.[¹] The Hong Kong Stewardship Code is a set of principles and guidance to assist investors to determine how best to meet their ownership responsibilities. As the Code notes, ownership of shares brings with it important responsibilities, particularly the right to speak and vote on matters that can influence the way in which a business is conducted. The stewardship principles set out in the Hong Kong Stewardship Code reflect that although the primary responsibility for a company’s success rests with the company’s board, investors in a company also play a significant role by holding the board to account for the fulfillment of its responsibilities. The responsibility of institutional investors to engage constructively with invested companies with the aim of enhancing the medium- to long-term investment return for their clients and beneficiaries by improving and fostering the investee companies’ corporate value and sustainable growth through constructive engagement, or purposeful dialogue, based on in-depth knowledge of the companies and their business environment. The Hong Kong Stewardship Code reflects the roles of a company’s Board of Directors and of its institutional investors in ensuring high standards of corporate governance — stewardship activities of the institutional investor include proper monitoring of the investee companies and constructive engagement with them done to discharge the stewardship responsibilities to foster sustainable growth of the companies. The Hong Kong Stewardship Code provides a framework for good practices in engaging with investee companies, and defines principles considered helpful to institutional investors in fulfilling their stewardship responsibilities with due regard to both their clients and to investee companies.
The SFC has observed that investors who closely follow their investee companies’ performance, decisions and corporate actions and review their disclosures are generally better informed and more able to engage effectively with investee companies, and that effective engagement generally leads to better-run companies. Furthermore, by promoting responsible ownership, the SFC believes the Code will further strengthen the corporate governance culture in Hong Kong which will benefit the overall health of the Hong Kong financial market.
We emphatically agree.
Oasis Management Company Ltd. (“Oasis”) is a private investment management firm established in 2002 with its group headquarters in Hong Kong since 2004. Oasis believes that companies should manage their operations in the best interests of shareholders. As a signatory and adoptee of the Hong Kong Stewardship Code from its announcement in 2016, Oasis accepts its stewardship responsibilities seeking to enhance investment return for its clients by fostering and improving corporate value and the sustainable growth of investee companies, through constructive engagement, purposeful dialogue and in-depth knowledge of the companies and their business environments.
In accordance with the Hong Kong Stewardship Code’s principles encouraging disclosure of how adoptees fulfill its stewardship responsibilities, we set forth below the manner in which we implement the principles contained therein.
Principle 1: Investors should establish and report to their stakeholders their policies for discharging their ownership responsibilities.
Oasis’s disclosure on how it proposes to fulfill its stewardship responsibilities under the Hong Kong Stewardship Code is made available on its website, and updated as necessary, but no less than annually. Oasis participates in hundreds of meetings each year with company management teams from around the world. Oasis portfolio managers and analysts al take part in our ongoing dialogue with companies. Maintaining an ongoing dialogue is central to how we discharge our ownership responsibilities on behalf of our clients. The goal of our stewardship activities is to support decisions that we believe will best enhance the medium- to long-term investment return for their clients and beneficiaries by improving and fostering the investee companies’ corporate value and sustainable growth through constructive engagement, or purposeful dialogue, based on in-depth knowledge of the companies and their business environment.
Principle 2: Institutional investors should monitor and engage with their investee companies.
Oasis strongly supports the principles of the Hong Kong Stewardship Code. Engagement with companies in which it invests forms an important component of the firm’s investment process and approach. This approach allows us to develop our understanding of a company’s business strategy, prospects, attitude (including its focus on Return on Equity (“ROE”)) as well as growth, costs, and risk, and to assess whether the company adheres to standards of corporate governance that will support the company’s long-term business and sustainable growth, while fulfilling the best interests of its clients and investors.
Oasis considers companies’ business strategy and process in assessing sustainable long-term growth, taking into account capital structure, financial stability, and the application of appropriately high standards of corporate governance.
The execution of this process is the responsibility of the Oasis investment team. The Oasis Chief Investment Officer and Hong Kong traders and analysts have extensive experience investing in Hong Kong (in the case of the Chief Investment Officer, over 20 years’ experience). Oasis investment team members engage regularly with Hong Kong corporate management. The research process is supervised by the Chief Investment Officer.
Members of the investment team specializing in Hong Kong are located in Oasis’s operational headquarters in Hong Kong. Oasis’s global presence adds further context and perspective in understanding the culture, supply chains, customer requirements and considerations, local and best practices, and competitive environments for many of the companies in which we invest.
Oasis considers regular monitoring of investee companies to be a key responsibility of fundamental investment management. Comprehensive and continuous research and regular constructive engagement with investee companies is an important characteristic of Oasis’s investment philosophy and approach. Oasis conducts hundreds of meetings each year with company management both in Hong Kong and overseas, as well as attending analysts’ meetings, roadshows, and shareholder meetings. Detailed financial analysis incorporates regular monitoring and analysis of published company reports and accounts as well as other company announcements, together with assessment of publicly available information including but not limited to broker and independent, 3rd party research, independently-sourced original information and data, external data suppliers, and publicly disclosed information from suppliers, competitors and customers. All of this research and engagement helps Oasis select appropriate investment opportunities.
Principle 3: Investors should consider and establish clear policies on when they will escalate their engagement activities.
Oasis seeks to research and learn from investee companies to ensure that they are pursuing strategies and processes that reflect the best interests of shareholders, while ensuring sustainable long-term growth. In the event that Oasis identifies issues or concerns regarding company management process, strategy, or the application of best standards of corporate governance, Oasis will seek to discuss its concerns with members of the investee company’s management, as it considers appropriate under the circumstances. For such engagements, Oasis has internal policies and procedures for the escalation, if necessary, of any such issues in order to improve governance and resulting in positive improvements to investee company value. Each action is considered individually on its own merits, taking into account the prevailing and relevant circumstances. We have not developed prescriptive guidelines for when and how we will escalate our activities. However, although Oasis endeavors to reach a common understanding with its investee companies, Oasis believes that constructive engagement, including escalation of engagement activities as appropriate under each investment’s specific circumstances, is valuable for both parties even if differences of opinion on specific points remain after such engagement.
Principle 4: Investors should have clear policies on voting guidance.
Oasis seeks to discharge its responsibilities under the Hong Kong Stewardship Code by means of the implementation of a clearly defined voting policy. Each vote is considered individually, taking into account all prevailing and relevant circumstances for the company. Oasis has a clear proxy voting policy, which provides transparency on our decision-making process in the event of any escalation of voting activities.
Oasis’s proxy voting policy can be made available to its clients and investors upon request. Oasis also discloses Hong Kong investment voting results on an aggregated basis per each major kind of proposal. However, Oasis does not generally disclose voting results on an individual investee company basis because Oasis believes that the potential risks of such disclosure, including conflict with client confidentiality and the importance of confidentiality of its investment strategies, would outweigh the potential benefits to clients and investors. Where it does not conflict with client confidentiality or the pursuit of investment strategies, the manner in which voting rights have been executed may be disclosed to Oasis clients and investors or others deemed appropriate under the circumstances.
Oasis’s proxy voting policy is subject to regular management review by the firm’s General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer, and senior management. Proxy voting procedures and record-keeping are the responsibility of the Oasis compliance and operations teams. Voting decisions for non-routine matters are referred to the Oasis investment teams as appropriate.
Oasis endeavors to take all reasonable steps to vote proxies in the best interests of clients, applying prevailing best practices and codes and standards of corporate governance. When voting proxies, Oasis gives due consideration to the recommendation of a company’s management, but will only support this if Oasis believes that to do so would be in the best interests of the company’s shareholders. The use of proxy advisors will not simply mechanically depend on the advisors’ recommendations but will exercise Oasis’s voting rights at our own responsibility and judgment and based on the results of the monitoring of the investee companies and dialogue with them.
Principle 5: Investors should be willing to act collectively with other investors where appropriate.
Oasis cultivates relationships with other investment firms and broader industry organizations to share insights on corporate governance trends and local market considerations. Although Oasis undertakes its engagement with investee companies on an independent basis, the firm recognizes that discussions with other investors may foster better engagement with investee companies, and does not exclude the possibility of engaging in brainstorming, idea sharing, and dialogue in the event that this is likely to enhance the quality of Oasis’s stewardship responsibilities. Oasis does not object in principle to collective action by investors, but normally seeks to engage individually with the companies in which it invests.
Principle 6: Investors should report to their stakeholders on how they have discharged their ownership responsibilities.
Oasis’s disclosure on how it fulfills its stewardship responsibilities under the Hong Kong Stewardship Code is made available on its website, and updated as necessary, but no less than annually.
Oasis’s proxy voting policy is available for its clients and investors upon request. Where it does not conflict with client confidentiality or the pursuit of investment strategies, the manner in which voting rights have been executed may be disclosed to Oasis clients and investors or others deemed appropriate under the circumstances.
Principle 7: When investing on behalf of clients, investors should have policies on managing conflicts of interest.
Oasis understands that conflicts of interest may occur in the pursuit of stewardship responsibilities. As a fiduciary, we seek to place the interests of our clients first and to avoid conflicts of interest, including those that arise from voting or engagement issues. Oasis maintains a robust set of compliance policies to identify, manage and monitor any such conflicts of interest, and to ensure that decisions are taken wholly in the interests of its clients. In compliance with US Securities & Exchange Commission (“SEC”) rules (among others), Oasis strives always to adhere to industry best practice to avoid conflicts of interest and to take these into consideration in the implementation of its management, investment, and compliance policies and procedures. Any conflicts of interest are disclosed in Oasis’s US affiliate’s Form ADV filed with the SEC as well as in the confidential offering documentation made available to Oasis clients and investors. These policies are subject to regular management review, including by the firm’s General Counsel & Chief Compliance Officer and senior management. The policies require, inter alia, that employees report to Oasis compliance in the event that they ever become aware of any material conflict of interest for appropriate handling and resolution.
Name and contact of person in charge of compliance with Oasis’s Hong Kong Stewardship Code obligations:
Phillip M. Meyer
General Counsel & Chief Operating Officer
T: +852 2847 7708
Oasis Regulatory Registration & Licensing Overview
Oasis Management Company Ltd. (“Oasis”) has been registered as a Commodity Pool Operator with the US Commodities Futures Trading Commission and a member of the US National Futures Association (NFA ID: 0323361) since September 30, 2002. Oasis is registered as an “Excluded Person” under the Securities Investment Business Law (2011 Revision) of the Cayman Islands.
Oasis Management (Hong Kong) (“Oasis Hong Kong”) has been licensed in good standing since 2004 with the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission to carry out Types 4 (advising on securities), 5 (advising on futures contracts) and 9 (asset management) activities (CE# AJJ190) under the provisions of the Hong Kong SFO (Cap.571).
Oasis Capital Partners (Texas) Inc. is registered with the US Securities & Exchange Commission (“SEC”) as an investment advisor under the US Advisers Act (IARD/CRD # 171703). Oasis, Oasis Hong Kong, and Oasis Capital Advisors LLC are registered as relying advisors with the SEC.
Last Updated October 2019
***[¹] http://www.sfc.hk/web/EN/rules-and-standards/principles-of-responsible-ownership.html & http://www.sfc.hk/web/EN/files/ER/PDF/Principles%20of%20Responsible%20Ownership_Eng.pdf