Economy & Markets

Tougher standards will mitigate risks and benefit investors

By James Langton |

Proposed changes to the listing requirements of the Canadian Securities Exchange (CSE) would formally adopt certain governance practices that the exchange currently imposes through guidance.

In a notice published Thursday, the CSE seeks to amend its rules to require, among other things:

> the positions of chief executive and chief financial officer (CFOs) at companies listed on the exchange be held by different people;

> the imposition of a financial literacy requirement on CFOs and audit committees; and,

> issuers that operate in emerging markets demonstrate they are legally entitled to operate in the jurisdiction where they do business.

Some of the new requirements stem from a review of emerging market issuers carried out by the Ontario Securities Commission in the wake of the Sino-Forest debacle, among other emerging market firms that ran afoul of shareholders and securities regulators.

According to the CSE notice, the proposed changes (such as the separation of the CEO and CFO roles) reflect existing practice for listings on the exchange, which is currently imposed via guidance.

"The amendments are intended to improve issuer procedures to mitigate certain risks, and to provide adequate disclosure of those procedures and risks," the notice says, adding that investors, and capital markets generally, will benefit from the adoption of tougher standards.

Comments on the proposals are due Nov. 20; the exchange expects to implement the changes on Dec. 4.