Our goal has always been to enhance our corporate value, maintain our sustainable long-term development and generate greater returns for our shareholders. In order to better achieve the above objectives, we have established good corporate governance practices following the principles of integrity, transparency, openness and efficiency, and have implemented sound governance structure and measures. We have established and improved various policies, internal control system and other management mechanisms and procedure for the key participants involved in good corporate governance, including shareholders, board of directors and its committees, management and staff, internal auditors, external auditors and other stakeholders (including our customers, local communities, industry peers, regulatory authorities, etc.).
In addition, as a company listed in both Hong Kong and New York, we also set forth in this report a summary of the significant differences between the corporate governance practices of the Company and the corporate governance practices required to be followed by U.S. companies under the NYSE's listing standards.
Our Board of Directors (the "Board") is responsible for performing the corporate governance duties and setting out the terms of reference on corporate governance functions. Throughout the financial year ended 31 December 2016, the Company has complied with all other code provisions of the Corporate Governance Code (the "CP") as set forth in Appendix 14 to the Rules Governing the Listing of Securities on The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited (the "Hong Kong Listing Rules"), except the followings:
The Company and its directors (including independent non-executive directors ("INED")) have not entered into any service contract with a specified term. All directors are subject to retirement by rotation and re-election at our annual general meetings (the "AGM") every three years, and all newly-appointed directors are subject to re-election by shareholders at the first annual general meeting after their appointment.
In accordance with the principles of the CP, we require our Board, the Board committees and other internal organs to strictly comply with their internal procedures. The following are the major respects in which China Mobile meets the CP:
Evolution of China Mobile Corporate Governance in 2016:
The Company is established in Hong Kong and owned by all shareholders. Our ultimate controlling shareholder is China Mobile Communications Group Co., Ltd., which, as of 31 December 2016, indirectly held approximately 72.72% of the total number of issued shares of the Company. The remaining approximately 27.28% of the total number of issued shares were held by public investors. During 2016, there is no change in the Articles of Association (the "Articles") of the Company, which are available on our website and the HKEX website.
According to the Articles and the Companies Ordinance (Cap 622 of the Laws of Hong Kong) (the "Hong Kong Companies Ordinance"), shareholders holding the requisite voting rights may: (i) move a requisition to move a resolution at the AGM; (ii) requisition to convene an extraordinary general meeting (the "EGM"); and (iii) propose a person other than a retiring director for election as a director at a general meeting. Such details and procedures are available in our website.
Shareholders may make inquiries in writing to the Board. The requisition must be deposited at our registered office at 60/F, The Center, 99 Queen's Road Central, Hong Kong (the "Registered Office"), for the attention of the Company Secretary, providing sufficient contact information so that such inquiries can be properly handled. In addition, shareholders may also raise their concerns and suggestions in the Q&A session at our AGMs.
I. Requisition to move a resolution at an AGM
The Company holds a general meeting as its AGM every year, which is usually held in May. In accordance with section 615 of the Hong Kong Companies Ordinance, a requisition to move a resolution at the AGM may be submitted by:
(i) any number of shareholders representing not less than one-fortieth (1/40th) of the total voting rights of all shareholders having the right to vote on that resolution at the AGM; or
(ii) not less than 50 shareholders having the right to vote on that resolution at the AGM.
The requisition must identify the resolution and must be signed by all the requisitionists. The requisition must be deposited at the Registered Office, for the attention of the Company Secretary, not later than:
(i) 6 weeks before the AGM to which the request relates; or
(ii) if later, when the Notice of AGM is dispatched.
II. Requisition to convene an EGM
Shareholders holding not less than one-twentieth (1/20th) of the total voting rights of all the members having a right to vote at general meetings of the Company can deposit a requisition to convene an EGM pursuant to sections 566 to 568 of the Hong Kong Companies Ordinance. The requisition must state the general nature of the business to be dealt with at the meeting, and must be signed by the requisitionists. The requisition must be deposited at our Registered Office for the attention of the Company Secretary.
III. Proposing a person other than a retiring director for election as a director at a general meeting
If a shareholder wishes to propose a person other than a retiring director for election as a director at a general meeting, he/she must lodge a written notice to that effect at our Registered Office for the attention of the Company Secretary. The written notice must state the full name and biographical details of the person proposed for election as a director as required by Rule 13.51(2) of the Hong Kong Listing Rules and signed by such shareholder. A written notice signed by the person proposed for election as a director indicating his/ her willingness to be elected must also be lodged with the Company. The above shall be dispatched during a period of not less than seven days commencing no earlier than the dispatch of the notice of the AGM and at least seven days before the date of the AGM.
For requesting the Company to circulate to shareholders a statement with respect to a matter mentioned in a proposed resolution or any other business to be dealt with at a general meeting, shareholders are requested to follow the requirements and procedures as set out in section 580 of the Hong Kong Companies Ordinance.
Shareholder Value and Communication
The Company's established principle is to strive to create value and bring favorable returns for shareholders. Since our first dividend payment for the fiscal year 2002, we have made efforts to achieve a sustained and stable growth in dividend to create better returns for shareholders. In fact, although the Company's profitability in the recent years has been fluctuating, we recommend the dividend payout ratio of 46% for the full financial year of 2016.
|Financial Year||Ordinary Dividend
|Total Dividend Per Share
|Dividend Payout Ratio|
To ensure the effective communications between the Company and its shareholders, we have formulated the communication policies with shareholders. We regularly review the policies to ensure its effectiveness. We have established an investor relations department, dedicated to provide necessary information and services to, and communicate with, shareholders and investors and other participants in the capital market, to maintain an active dialogue with them and make sure they are fully informed of the Company's operation and development.
We use a number of formal channels to report to shareholders on the performance and operations of the Company, particularly through our annual and interim reports. Generally, when announcing interim results, annual results or any major transactions in accordance with the relevant regulatory requirements, the Company arranges investment analyst conferences, press conferences and investor telephone conferences to explain the relevant results or major transactions to the shareholders, investors and the general public, listen to their opinions and address any questions that they may have. In addition, the Company adheres to the practice of voluntarily disclosing on a quarterly basis certain key, unaudited operational and financial data, and on a monthly basis the net increase in the number of customers on its website to further increase the Group's transparency and to provide shareholders, investors and the general public with additional information so as to facilitate their understanding of the Group's operations.
The Company maintains close communication with investors through investment conferences, one-on-one meetings, video-conferencing and other forms of exchange interaction to timely deliver our operating conditions to the capital markets. In 2016, our management attended 13 investor conferences and 222 routine investor meetings, met with 538 investment institutions and 702 investors in total. We will continue our efforts to enhance our investor relations work.
The Company also attaches high importance to the AGMs, and makes substantial efforts to enhance communications between the Board and the shareholders. At the AGMs, the Board always makes efforts to fully address the questions raised by shareholders. In 2016, we held our AGM on one occasion on 26 May 2016 (Thursday) in the Conference Room, Conrad Hotel, Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Hong Kong. The major items discussed and the percentage of votes cast in favor of the resolutions are set out as follows:
All resolutions were duly passed at the 2016 AGM. As at the date of the AGM, the number of issued shares of the Company was 20,475,482,897 shares, which was the total number of shares entitling the holders to attend and vote for or against all the resolutions proposed at the AGM. No shareholders were required to abstain from voting on the resolutions proposed at the AGM. Hong Kong Registrars Limited, the share registrar of the Company, acted as scrutineer for vote-taking at the AGM. Poll results were announced at the meeting and on the websites of the Company and the HKEX on the day of the AGM.
The following table sets out the tentative key dates for our shareholders for the financial year ending 31 December 2017. Such dates are subject to change pursuant to actual situations. Shareholders should note our announcements issued from time to time.
|FY 2017 Shareholders' Calendar|
|23 March||Announcement of final results and final dividend for the financial year ended 31 December 2016|
|12 April||Upload of 2016 annual report on the websites of the Company and the HKEX|
|13 April||Dispatch of 2016 annual reports to shareholders|
|25 May||2017 AGM|
|End of June||Payment of final dividend for the financial year ended 31 December 2016|
|Mid-August||Announcement of interim results and interim dividend for the six months ending 30 June 2017, if any|
|End of September||Payment of interim dividend for the six months ending 30 June 2017, if any|
The Board of Directors
The key responsibilities of the Board include, among others, formulating the Group's overall strategies, setting management targets, monitoring internal controls and financial management, supervising the performance of our management, developing and reviewing the policies and practices of corporate governance (the Terms of Reference of its corporate governance function are available on the websites of our Company and the HKEX), while day-to-day operations and management are delegated by the Board to the executives of the Company. The Board operates in accordance with established practices (including those relating to reporting and supervision).
As of 23 March 2017, the Board comprises nine directors, namely Mr. SHANG Bing (Chairman), Mr. LI Yue (Chief ExecutiveOfficer), Mr. LIU Aili, Mr. SHA Yuejia and Mr. DONG Xin as executive directors, and Mr. Frank WONG Kwong Shing, Dr. Moses CHENG Mo Chi, Mr. Paul CHOW Man Yiu and Mr. Stephen YIU Kin Wah as INEDs. The list of directors and their role and function is available on the websites of our Company and HKEX. The biographies of our directors are presented on pages 7 to 11 of this annual report and on our website.
As proposed by the Nomination Committee of the Company and after review and approval by the Board, Mr. Stephen YIU Kin Wah has been appointed as an INED and Mr. DONG Xin as an Executive Director, Vice President and CFO of the Company with effect from 23 March 2017. Dr. LO Ka Shui has resigned from his positions as an INED as well as the Chairman and a member of the Nomination Committee and Remuneration Committee of the Company by reason of his desire to focus on his own company's businesses with effect from 26 May 2016. With effect from 23 March 2017, Mr. XUE Taohai resigned from his positions as an Executive Director, Vice President and CFO of the Company by reason of retirement. Both Dr. LO and Mr. Xue have confirmed that there is no disagreement with the Board and that there is no matter relating to their respective resignation that needs to be brought to the attention of the shareholders of the Company.
Board meetings are held at least once a quarter and as and when necessary. Directors are requested to declare their direct or indirect interests, if any, in any proposals or transactions to be considered by the Board at Board meetings and withdraw from the meetings as appropriate. During the financial year ended 31 December 2016, the Board met on four occasions and the directors' attendances at the meetings are as follows:
|Board of directors||Audit
|Dr. LO Ka Shui2||2||–||2||2||1|
|Mr. Frank WONG Kwong Shing||4||5||2||2||1|
|Dr. Moses CHENG Mo Chi||4||4||2||2||1|
|Mr. Paul CHOW Man Yiu||4||5||–||–||1|
|Mr. SHANG Bing (Chairman)||4||–||–||–||0|
|Mr. LI Yue (CEO)||4||–||–||–||1|
|Mr. LIU Aili||3||–||–||–||1|
|Mr. XUE Taohai (CFO)3||4||–||–||–||1|
|Mr. SHA Yuejia||4||–||–||–||1|
All board meetings and committee meetings were attended by the directors in person. In 2016, the Board has met and discussed the matters relating to the annual results, interim results, dividend, continuing connected transactions, investment company project, adjustment of the Board and its committee members, sustainability report, policy on shareholder communications, the evaluation report on the effectiveness of the Board performance and others.
The Board is responsible for performing the corporate governance duties and setting out the terms of reference on corporate governance functions, which you may review or download on our company website. In 2016, the Board met and discussed matters relating to the corporate governance of the Company.
The Board has adopted a Board Diversity Policy since 2013. In considering the composition of the Board, diversity can be considered from a number of perspectives, including professional experience and qualifications, regional and industry experience, educational and cultural background, skills, industry knowledge and reputation, knowledge of the laws and regulations applicable to the Group, gender, ethnicity, language skills and length of service etc. Such perspectives shall be taken into account in determining the optimal composition of the Board and be considered on a case-by-case basis in light of the actual circumstances of the Company.
To ensure the timely disclosure of any change of directors' personal information, the Company has set up a specific communication channel with each of our directors. There is no financial, business, family or other material relationships among members of the Board. The Company purchases directors and officers' liabilities insurance on behalf of its directors and officers and reviews the terms of such insurance annually.
In compliance with the requirement of Hong Kong Listing Rules, the Company has received a confirmation of independence from each of our INEDs, namely Mr. Frank WONG Kwong Shing, Dr. Moses CHENG Mo Chi, Mr. Paul CHOW Man Yiu and Mr. Stephen YIU Kin Wah, and considers them to be independent. The Board is of the view that they not only are able to completely fulfill their responsibilities as an INED, but will also continue to play a role and contribute to our Board Committees. They being our INEDs will benefit the Company and all shareholders as a whole.
The directors have disclosed to the Company the positions held by them in other listed public companies or organizations or associated companies, and the information regarding their directorships in other listed public companies in the last three years is set out in the biographies of directors and senior management on pages 7 to 11 of this annual report and on the Company's website. The Company has also received acknowledgments from the directors of their responsibility for preparing the financial statements and the representation by the auditors of the Company about their reporting responsibilities.
All our directors confirmed that they have complied with Paragraph A.6.5 of the Corporate Governance Code with respect to directors' training. Throughout the financial year ended 31 December 2016, we have provided a training session with respect to director responsibility and obligation to our directors and management and all our directors attended the training.
The Company has adopted the Model Code set out in Appendix 10 to the Hong Kong Listing Rules to regulate the directors' securities transactions. Save and except for the interests disclosed in the report of the directors on page 56 of this annual report, none of the directors had any other interest in the shares of the Company as of 31 December 2016. All directors have confirmed, following enquiry by the Company, that they have complied with the Model Code during the period between 1 January 2016 and 31 December 2016.
The Board currently has three principal board committees, which are the Audit Committee, the Remuneration Committee and the Nomination Committee, and all of which are comprised solely of INEDs. With the appointment and authorization of the Board, each of the board committees operates under its written terms of reference. The terms of reference of the board committees are available on the HKEX's and the Company's websites, and can be obtained from the Company Secretary upon written request.
Work Done in 2016
In 2016, the principal work performed by the Audit Committee includes:
In 2016, our Audit Committee has completed its review on risk management and internal control systems and their enforcement.
Work Done in 2016
Work Done in 2016
The Remuneration Committee is responsible for determining the remuneration packages of all executive directors and senior management. The remuneration package of our executive directors consists of a basic salary, a performance-linked annual bonus and a term incentive. The remuneration of independent non-executive directors is determined in part by reference to the prevailing market conditions and their workload as independent non-executive directors and members of the board committees of the Company. Please refer to note 10 to the consolidated financial statements on page 96 of this annual report for directors' and senior management's remuneration in 2016.
Currently, executive directors are mainly selected internally within the Group from executives who have considerable years of management experience and expertise in the telecommunications industry, whereas for the identification of non-executive directors, importance is attached to the individual's independence as well as his or her experience and expertise in finance and business management, and taking into consideration the requirements of the jurisdictions where the Company is listed and the structure and composition of the Board. The Nomination Committee identifies, reviews and nominates, with diligence and care, individuals suitably qualified as board members of the Company before making recommendations to the Board for their final appointment.
All newly-appointed directors receive a comprehensive induction of directors' duties to make sure that they have a proper understanding of the operations and business of the Company, and that they are fully aware of their responsibilities as a director, the listing rules of the stock exchanges on which the Company is listed, applicable laws and regulations, and the operation and governance policies of the Company. All newly-appointed directors are subject to re-election by shareholders at the first annual general meeting after their appointment. Every director is subject to retirement by rotation and needs to stand for re-election at least once every three years.
In 2017, the nomination and appointment of Mr. Stephen YIU Kin Wah and Mr. DONG Xin was conducted in accordance with the above standards and procedures. Their respective remuneration and director's fee were determined by the Board with reference to their respective duties, responsibilities, experience and prevailing market conditions.
The task of the Company's management is to implement the strategy and direction as determined by the Board, and to take care of day-to-day operations and functions of the Company. The division of responsibilities among our Chief Executive Officer and other members of the senior management is set out in the biographies of directors and senior management on pages 7 to 11 of this annual report and on the Company's website.
Our management is required to adhere to certain business principles and ethics while performing management duties. For the purpose of promoting honest and ethical conducts and deterring wrongdoings, the Company, in 2004, adopted a code of ethics, which is applicable to our chief executive officer, chief financial officer, deputy chief financial officer, assistant chief financial officer and other designated senior officers of the Group, in accordance with the requirements of the SOX Act. In the event of a breach of the code of ethics, the Company may take appropriate preventive or disciplinary actions after consultation with the Board. The code of ethics has been filed with the U.S. SEC as an exhibit to our annual report on Form 20-F for the financial year ended 31 December 2003, which may also be viewed and downloaded from our website.
The Company established an on-going disclosure control procedure to formulate potential insider dealings. Our CEO and CFO have a personal obligation to maintain the effectiveness of the disclosure controls and internal controls over financial reporting, and to report to the Audit Committee and the external auditor any significant changes, deficiencies and material weaknesses in, and fraud related to, such controls. Besides, the Company provides directors' monthly reports to board members giving the latest development of the Company to enable them to discharge their duties.
To prevent and discipline corruption, we further refined our management system and business processes to improve internal control and prevent risks, enhancing anti-corruption education. We have formulated the Anti-Bribery Guidance for employees to learn more about business bribery and how to deal with it. In 2016, we furthered our anticorruption construction to establish a 4-in-1 anti-corruption system combining education, prevention, penalty and accountability. Meanwhile, we further deepened our auditing rectification and accountability mechanism to make sure all issues found in auditing process shall be raised with rectification requirement. To major violation and loss cases in audit findings, the Company shall hold the relevant personnel accountable.
We revised and improved our decision-making policies and implementation method, refined our major issue catalogue and criteria to prevent risks in decision-making. We strengthened the inspection mechanism, especially on key areas such as procurement biddings to look for loopholes in our management system and resolve them and urge for honest operation, healthy development, good performance and shareholders' interests protection.
For whistle blowing, the Company has set a post office box, an e-mail account (email@example.com), CEO mailbox, a telephone hotline (010-52616186), fax and other channels to encourage employees and the public to raise concerns about misconducts, malpractices or irregularities in any matters related to the Company. The Company will keep the whistleblowers' personal information strictly confidential to protect his/her rights, and carefully verify and investigate issues reported. During 2016, there were 860 cases of whistle-blowing, 70.23% of which were solved and closed.
|The number of Anti-corruption education activities||3,071||1,986||3,951|
|The aggregate number of attendees of anti-corruption education||461,137||761,800||696,106|
|Corruption cases handled||54||96||232|
|The number of persons dismissed and fined for corruption||87||140||302|
IA Dept. conducts independent and objective supervision and assessment and provides consulting services in respect of the appropriateness, compliance and effectiveness of the Company's operational activities and internal controls by applying systematic and standardized auditing procedures and methods. The IA Dept. also assists the Company in improving the effectiveness of corporate governance, risk management and control process, with an aim to increasing its corporate value, improving its operations, promoting its sustainable and healthy development as well as contributing to the achievement of its strategic objectives.
The Company and its operating subsidiaries have set up internal audit departments, which independently audit the business units of the Company and its operating subsidiaries. The head of the IA Dept. directly reports, four times a year, to the Audit Committee which, in turn, reports to the Board regularly. The Board and Audit Committee give instructions with respect to internal auditing. The IA Dept. regularly reports to the senior management for auditing resources and authorization as well as deployment of rectification. The IA Dept. has unrestricted access to the relevant businesses, assets, records and personnel in the course of performing their duties.
The IA Dept. establishes an internal audit scope and framework and carries out risk investigations on an annual basis. According to the results of the risk investigations, the IA Dept. formulates an internal audit project rolling plan and an annual audit plan and, together with the Audit Committee, reviews and approves the annual audit plan and resources allocation. The annual audit plan of the internal audit department covers various areas, namely financial audit, internal control audit, risk assessment, audit investigation and consultancy services. For financial audit, the IA Dept. audits and assesses the truthfulness, accuracy, compliance and efficiency of the Company's financial activities and financial information as well as the management and utilization of the Company's capital and assets. For internal control audit, the IA Dept. audits and assesses the effectiveness in the design and implementation of the Company's internal control system. According to the requirements under the Corporate Governance Code of Hong Kong Listing Rules, section 404 of the SOX Act and Mainland China laws and regulations, the IA Dept. organizes and performs audit assessment on the internal control over financial and non-financial reporting of the Group covering all material areas of financial, operation and compliance controls, on an annual basis, to provide assurance for the Company's management in its issuance of the internal control assessment report. The IA Dept. shall report to the senior management and the Board on an interim and annual basis. At the same time, the IA Dept. carries on special projects and investigations in response to requests from the Company's management or the Audit Committee or if otherwise required. In addition, without prejudice to its independence, if requested by the Company's management and as required by business needs, the IA Dept. provides management advice or consultancy services by making use of audit resources and audit information to facilitate the Company's decision-making and operational management.
The IA Dept. makes improvement recommendations in respect of its findings in the course of the audits and requests the management to undertake and to confirm the implementation plan, the methods and the timing. It regularly monitors the status of the implementation of the recommendations to ensure their completion.
In 2016, the IA Dept., focusing on high-risk areas of the operation, further strengthened auditing on data products, important information system, procurement tender, cooperation businesses and newly-established subsidiaries, to prevent major risks and identify new risks. We expanded the application of remote real-time audit technology and further rectified the mechanism with respect to some common issues to plug loopholes. With the expansion of our business, more and more subsidiaries have been set up in recent years. In 2016, we actively improved the internal audit organization and set up internal audit branches in three cities, which greatly strengthened our audit capacity and centralization, and further strengthened the audit function and independency.
We report regularly to the Board and Audit Committee with respect to the building up of our internal audit organization, its human resources and qualifications, staff training, annual audit plan and budget, and the audit results. In 2016, we focused our audit on the establishment plan of our internal audit branches, the main findings of each audit projects and their rectification. We provide specific guidance on audit focus, rectification advice, team building and others to ensure the effectiveness of internal audit functions.
In 2017, the IA Dept. will continue focusing on new tasks of strategy transformation to find in-depth risk and plug management loopholes, and promoting process control and mechanism optimization to further enhance the effectiveness of internal audit.
In 2016, the Group engaged PricewaterhouseCoopers and PricewaterhouseCoopers Zhong Tian LLP as statutory auditors of the Group for Hong Kong financial reporting and U.S. financial reporting purposes, respectively. The principal services provided by PwC included:
Apart from providing the above-mentioned audit services to the Group, the external auditors also provided other nonaudit services to the Group, which were permitted under section 404 of the SOX Act and pre-approved by the Audit Committee.
The following table sets forth the types of, and fees for, the principal audit services and non-audit services provided by the external auditors (please refer to note 6 to the consolidated financial statements for details):
|Non-audit services fees5||5||10|
Good corporate governance practices require due attention to the impact of our business decisions on our shareholders as well as other relevant stakeholders such as customers, local communities, industry peers and regulatory authorities. Our sustainability report for the year of 2016 (the "Sustainability Report"), which is issued together with this annual report, highlights our philosophy of corporate social responsibility and our performance in the areas of social and environmental management in 2016. This annual report and the Sustainability Report illustrate our efforts and development in the areas of industry development, community advancement and environmental protection and also explain how we have fulfilled our obligations to our employees, customers, environment, local communities and other stakeholders.
In 2016, we were recognized on the Dow Jones Sustainability Emerging Markets Index, and had been on the DJSI family for nine consecutive years. China Mobile was the first and only company from Mainland China to be awarded a position on CDP's Climate A List 2016.
Our Audit Committee under the Board is responsible for conducting regular reviews of the effectiveness of the Group's risk management and internal control systems to reasonably ensure that the Company is operating legally and the assets are safeguarded and to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the financial information that the Company employs in its business or releases to the public. The said systems are designed to manage rather than eliminate the risk of failure to meet business targets and to make reasonable but not absolute assurances with respect to material misrepresentations or losses. As of 31 December 2016, our Audit Committee has evaluated the effectiveness of the Group's risk management and internal control systems, covering all important aspects including financial, operational and compliance internal controls, to ensure we provide sufficient resources, staff qualification and experience, training courses and budget in accounting, internal audit and financial reporting. Based on such review, we consider the Group's risk management and internal control systems to be effective. Our Audit Committee under the Board is responsible for, among other things, monitoring the Company's financial reporting procedures, internal controls and risk management.
The management of the Company reports to Audit Committee annually about the building-up and performance of its risk management and internal control systems, including interim and annual evaluation reports, and receives guidance and supervision from Audit Committee. In 2016, the Company has received the management affirmation with respect to the effectiveness of the risk management and internal control systems.
Our management is responsible for establishing and maintaining internal control over financial reporting. We adopted the control criteria framework set out in the Internal Control Integrated Framework issued by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO) (2013). In compliance with the provisions and requirements under section 404 of the SOX Act and the CP issued by HKEX, we refined our routine management mechanism of internal controls, in establishing a stringent internal control system over financial reporting.
We established a hierarchical top-down risk assessment mechanism, relying on the strategic level risk assessment (material risk assessment), the management level risk assessment (major projects risk assessment) and the operational level risk assessment (procedure risk assessment), to assist the management to acknowledge risk information in a timely manner in order to make a reasonable decision. Based on risk assessment, we established a three-tier internal controls of "the top level internal control system, the internal control professional system and the internal control practices guidelines", which brought the control requirements to the whole process of marketing, production and management. Base on our business operation, we focus on high risk and key management areas and perform risk assessment, so as to enforce our internal control requirement into our daily operation. Meanwhile, we assigned specific responsibilities to individuals and input the control requirements in our IT systems to strengthen the internal controls. And through multiple internal and external supervision and inspections, including self-assessment, management evaluation, external audit, etc., we effectively improved the execution efficiency and effectiveness of our internal controls.
Based on the evaluation conducted by the management of the Company, the management believes that, as of 31 December 2016, the Company's internal control over financial reporting was effective which provided reasonable assurance regarding the reliability of financial reporting and the preparation of financial statements for reporting purposes in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles.
All disclosure of material information relating to the Company is made through the unified leadership and management of the Board, with the Company's management performing its relevant duties. The Company has performed an annual review of the effectiveness of the Company's disclosure controls and procedures, and concluded that, as of 31 December 2016, the Company's disclosure controls and procedures were effectively executed at a reasonable assurance level.
According to the Hong Kong Listing Rules and United States Securities Act, since 2003, the Company has implemented the information disclosure internal control and procedures. We have established the Disclosure Committee, including our Chairman, chief executive officer, chief financial officer and heads of main functional departments. Empowered by the Board, the Disclosure Committee is responsible for organizing and coordinating the routine reporting and disclosure job to prompt timely, fair, truthful and complete disclosure of information, ensure good corporate governance and transparency, properly get back to the investors, analysts and media inquiries, to prevent our share price volatility caused by error messages.
Under the circumstances where any department or officer are in breach of disclosure procedures and internal control resulting in reporting or disclosure errors, or in breach of disclosure related laws and regulations, the Company shall hold the relevant personnel accountable. Members of the Disclosure Committee, heads of our IA Dept. and other relevant departments and each of our subsidiaries shall give confirmations annually and take personal responsibilities with respect to their disclosure duties.
Our IA Dept. conducts annual evaluation with respect to the effectiveness of disclosure internal control and procedures and its performance, and issues audit reports. Depending on such reports, the Board and the management shall make written statements with respect to our annual report on Form 20-F and take personal responsibilities in accordance with the requirements of the US Securities Act. The Disclosure Committee can revise the disclosure internal control and procedure in accordance with its performance and the development of relevant laws with approval of the senior management. The revised internal control procedure and articles shall be circulated to all departments and subsidiaries within the Group.
The Company attach great importance to the handling of insider information. In compliance with the provisions of Hong Kong Securities and Futures Ordinance (Chapter 571 of the Laws of Hong Kong) (the "SFO"), the Company also set up rules and black-out periods on directors, management and employees in dealing in the shares of the Company or exercising share options while they are in possession of inside information. In about every six months, staff in our Hong Kong office are required to sign a duty of confidentiality and prohibition against insider dealing. Unauthorized use of confidential or inside information for profits is strictly prohibited to prevent violation of laws and regulations and internal disciplines. In general, any authorized speaker from the Company only makes clarification and explanation on information already available in the market, avoiding any unpublished inside information. Before any external interview, such speaker shall seek verification from the relevant department about any information to be disclosed.
As a foreign private issuer (as defined in Rule 3b-4 under the U.S. Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended), we are permitted to follow home country practices in lieu of some of the corporate governance practices required to be followed by U.S. companies listed on the NYSE. As a result, our corporate governance practices differ in some respects from those required to be followed by U.S. companies listed on the NYSE.
In accordance with the requirements of section 303A.11 of the NYSE Listed Company Manual, the following is a summary of the significant differences between the Company's corporate governance practices and those required to be followed by U.S. companies under the NYSE's listing standards.
Section 303A.01 of the NYSE Listed Company Manual provides that listed companies must have a majority of independent directors. As a listed company in Hong Kong, the Company is subject to the requirement under the Hong Kong Listing Rules that at least one-third of its board be independent non-executive directors as determined under the Hong Kong Listing Rules. The Company has 4 independent non-executive directors out of a total of 9 directors. The Hong Kong Listing Rules set forth standards for establishing independence, which differ from those set forth in the NYSE Listed Company Manual.
Section 303A.03 of the NYSE Listed Company Manual provides that listed companies must schedule regular executive sessions in which non-management directors meet without management participation. As a listed company in Hong Kong, we are subject to the requirement under the Hong Kong Listing Rules that our Chairman should hold meetings at least annually with the non-executive directors (including INEDs) without the presence of executive directors.
Section 303A.04 of the NYSE Listed Company Manual provides that the nominating/corporate governance committee of a listed company must have a written charter that addresses the committee's purpose and responsibilities, which include, among others, the development and recommendation of corporate governance guidelines to the listed company's board of directors. Our Board is responsible for performing the corporate governance duties, including developing and reviewing our policies and practices of corporate governance.
Section 303A.07 of the NYSE Listed Company Manual provides that if an audit committee member simultaneously serves on the audit committee of more than three public companies, and the listed company does not limit the number of audit committees on which its audit committee members serve to three or less, then in each case, the board of directors must determine that such simultaneous service would not impair the ability of such member to effectively serve on the listed company's audit committee and disclose such determination. The Company is not required, under the applicable Hong Kong law, to make such determination.
Section 303A.10 of the NYSE Listed Company Manual provides that listed companies must adopt and disclose a code of business conduct and ethics for directors, officers and employees. While the Company is not required, under the Hong Kong Listing Rules, to adopt such similar code, as required under the SOX Act, the Company has adopted a code of ethics that is applicable to the Company's principal executive officers, principal financial officers, principal accounting officers or persons performing similar functions.
Section 303A.12(a) of the NYSE Listed Company Manual provides that each listed company's chief executive officer must certify to the NYSE each year that he or she is not aware of any violation by the company of NYSE corporate governance listing standards. The Company's chief executive officer is not required, under the applicable Hong Kong law, to make similar certifications.
We will closely study the development of corporate governance practices among the world's leading corporations, future evolution of the relevant regulatory environment and the requirements of the investors on an ongoing basis. We will also review and enhance our corporate governance procedures and practices from time to time so as to ensure the long-term sustainable development of the Company.
1 Pending approval at the AGM.
2 Dr. Lo resigned from his position as an INED of the Company with effect from 26 May 2016.
3 Mr. Xue resigned from his positions as an Executive Director, Vice President and CFO of the Company with effect from 23 March 2017.
4 Including the fees rendered for the audit of internal control over financial reporting as required by section 404 of the SOX Act.
5 Including the fees for tax compliance and advisory services, risk assessment and compliance advisory services and performance improvement and business process optimization advisory services.