WE “TRAVEL” to Japan regularly as part of our research of how companies around the world are using the web to communicate with their investors.
When we first started going there, standards of online IR communication were exceptionally poor. Except for a couple of firms like NTT DoCoMo and Sony, the country’s blue chips as a group had the lowest average score out of all the countries we covered.
That was during the long slump the Japanese economy experienced after its banking crisis. There was little reason for Japan Inc. to reach out to international investors because there wasn’t a whole lot positive to say.
Then a couple of years later things began to change. The markets began to recover, led initially by the most active retail investor base in the world, and then by a steady return of international investors. We gained several Japanese companies as clients and helped IR companies in Japan learn more about prevailing standards of online IR communications.
Today, Japan has some exceptional examples of investor relations websites, although NTT DoCoMo and Sony no longer lead. As a group, Japan’s blue chips rank squarely in the middle of our survey. And the country’s regulators are ahead of most on mandatory XBRL.
Of course, there is still much more progress to be made, particularly among smaller and less high-profile firms. And nowhere is that more obvious than in their uniformly poor online corporate governance disclosure practices.
But now that may be about to change, too.
Hedge fund delivers wake-up call
It is the first time management of a Japanese firm has been voted out as a result of pressure from an activist fund, the news agency says.
The company’s shares shot up almost 9% after the news. Aderans’ failure to get all members of its board except independent directors re-elected is a wake-up call for Japan’s managers.
“This is going to be a catalyst,” Yoshinori Nagano, chief strategist at Daiwa Asset Management tells Reuters.
Yes, it probably will be and we look forward to seeing it happen during our travels.