(Aug 7): Singapore is examining ways to tighten regulation of retail bond issues and the real estate investment trust sector as it steps up investor protection in the city-state.

The Singapore Exchange’s regulatory arm, SGX RegCo, will create a working group to review and improve disclosures relating to retail bonds, SGX RegCo's Chief Executive Officer Tan Boon Gin said in a statement setting out his organisation’s goals for the remainder of the year.

The initiative follows a slew of bond defaults in Singapore, including by Swiber Holdings, Noble Group and Hyflux, which have left retail investors nursing losses in recent years.

The working group will look into ways to provide clarity on the role of trustees and how investors can better exercise their rights in the event of a default, according to the statement. A public consultation will follow the review.

Tan said SGX RegCo will also be consulting on a more robust regime for property valuations, as it looks to turn Singapore into an international center for REITs. These will include proposals to ensure property valuers have qualifications from professional bodies, and for valuation reports to meet standards equivalent to those set by the Singapore Institute of Surveyors and Valuers.

Among the other SGX RegCo initiatives announced Wednesday were:
    •    A review of the minimum trading price policy for listed companies
    •    A new framework for companies’ quarterly reporting, pending regulatory approval
    •    A review of the listings due-diligence guidelines issued by the Association of Banks in Singapore, with a view to improving internal controls and financial forecasts