Prada SpA to file for IPO in Hong Kong sign now

(Traditional Chinese Version see below)
ReпPrada SpA to file for IPO in Hong Kong

Recently it has been reported that Italian fashion house Prada SpA (вthe companyв) plans to file for IPO in Hong Kong this summer. We are concerned that the company is suspect of discriminatory practices towards female employees in Japan, and that such complaints are still currently under investigation [note]. Our Association has also been in direct contact with the complainant of this case, Ms Bovrisse.

As women's concern groups which advocate gender equality, we are shocked by the company's discriminatory practices against women employees and the fact that it has plans to file for IPO in Hong Kong. We are deeply concerned about the standards of companies listed or are to be listed in Hong Kong with regards to their discriminatory practices and sexual harassment towards women. We believe that since the Hong Kong Stock Exchange is vested with the power to assess the suitability of potential IPOs, it should also have the authority to prevent companies which are suspect of sex discrimination from filing for IPO in Hong Kong.

Moreover, the Hong Kong Stock Exchange should require listed companies to establish, execute and monitor policies that are conducive to gender equality and that which are in observance with Hong Kong's anti-discrimination ordinances. These should be requirements that must be observed as part of company governance, just as the Hong Kong Stock Exchange requires listed companies to observe strict codes regarding their financial policies, as we believe that the value of individuals' dignity should not be subsumed under the value of money.

Our demands are as follows:

1. That the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Ltd must require all companies seeking to apply for IPO in Hong Kong to provide a comprehensive audit report on their compliance with the anti-sex discrimination ordinance; the results of such audit should be one of the criteria for approval of its application;

2. To promote the policy describe above, rules governing the listing of securities on the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Ltd must be immediately amended;

3. With regards to Prada SpA, the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Ltd must immediately investigate whether the company has appropriate anti-discriminatory policies in place, and that before the company can provide a satisfactory respond to existing charges of discriminatory and sexual harassment behaviours, the process of its IPO listing application must be hauled;

4. That the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Ltd should seek assistance from Hong Kongвs statutory organization on the implemetaton of th Sex Discrimination Ordinance, the Equal Opportunities Commission, to establish requirements for listed companies to observe regarding sex discrimination and sexual harassment.

We believe that the above demands are perfectly reasonable.

Firstly, requiring companies and enterprises to observe local labour, environmental and equal opportunities ordinances is nothing new. For example, the OECD's Principles of Corporate Governance (OECD Principles of Corporate Governance, 2004пspecifies that company directors have the responsibility to ensure that the business complies with various ordinances. Another example is OMX's вWholeheartedly Proud Policyв. Tool 9 legitimises investigation on companies' violations on human rights or other ethical international norms.

Secondly, organizations responsible for monitoring the markets have been known to initiate investigations into companies on relevant issues. For example, in response to the rules and regulations of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, the Ministry of Environmental Protection of the PRCпformerly State Environmental Protection Administrationпhas sought environmental impact audit from companies seeking to apply for IPO.

Moreover, from investors' point of view, listed companies that commit unlawful behaviours and practices regarding sex discrimination and sexual harassment can potentially result in grave consequences. In certain legal jurisdictions this could mean large sums of compensatory payments or fines, which directly affect investors' investment returns.

Just as the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Ltd has established a new chapter (chapter 18) to cover the unique risks faced by Mineral Companies, we believe that it only makes sense that companies seeking for IPO listing must reveal, explain, and provide audits of their standards with regards to laws and ordinances, societal norms and corporate responsibility.

As public awareness continues to rise, the public (not only Hong Kong) also have increasing expectations regarding the non-financial вtrack recordв of companies applying for IPOs. A recent example is the Mainland company which deals in bear bile extraction Guizhentang's(жёзе) IPO application, which has faced widespread opposition both within China and abroad.

Moreover, it is nowadays common for companies, enterprises and industries to establish relevant codes of conduct. Presently, it is extremely inadequate that the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Ltd merely relies on the Guide on Environmental, Social and Governance Reporting for companies to meet public expectations, as this document has no binding power whatsoever.

In order to promote listed companies' continued improvements in standards of governance, the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Ltd has the responsibility to amend existing requirements of listed companies, including the strengthening the requirements regarding sex discrimination ordinances; only so can the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Ltd keep up with the times.

пnote: see report from local media http://www.singtao.com.hk/archive/fullstory.asp?andor=or&year1=2010&month1=3&day1=14&year2=2010&month2=3&day2=14& category=all&id=20100314b07&keyword1&keyword2п

ccп Mr LAM Woon-kwong(Chairperson, the Equal Opportunities Commission)
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(Chinese Version)
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(иЁппжедёжеЄйзееипhttp://www.singtao.com.hk/archive/fullstory.asp?andor=or&year1=2010&month1=3&day1=14&year2=2010&month2=3&day2=14&category=all&id=20100314b07&keyword1&keyword2)

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Kari JarvisBy:
TelecommunicationsIn:
Petition target:
Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited, The Stock Exchange Of Hong Kong Limited

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