«It’s ultimately up to the rest of the ASX board to decide but the commission commentary and his later withdrawal as NAB chair definitely puts him under a cloud, with respect to meeting investor and public expectations of a director of a listed company.»
The ASX board has some experience with governance issues. ASX chief executive Elmer Funke Kupper dramatically quit in 2016, after the AFP began an investigation into an issue when he was previously boss at Tabcorp. He has never been charged over the matter.
ASX chairman Rick Holliday-Smith issued a statement at the time supporting Mr Funke Kupper remaining as head of the bourse, saying he was “not aware of any reason” why he should step down.
However, the board later accepted Mr Funke Kupper’s resignation. Mr Funke Kupper issued his own statement, saying he had resigned in the interests of good corporate governance.
The ASX yesterday issued a similar statement in support of Dr Henry.
«The current matters relate to Ken Henry’s role as chair of NAB,» and ASX spokesman said.
«It’s not appropriate for ASX to comment on NAB’s business. As for ASX, Ken is a highly valued member of a strong ASX board. We look forward to that continuing.»
Companies listed on the ASX are required to adhere to a set of standards. The ASX Corporate Governance Council, which includes representatives from 20 key business and shareholder groups, oversees ASX listing rules that demand companies address in their annual corporate governance statements.
ASX Corporate Governance Council principles stipulate that listed firms must act «ethically and responsibly.»
«Acting ethically and responsibly goes well beyond mere compliance with legal obligations and involves acting … in a manner that is consistent with the reasonable expectations of investors and the broader community,” they state.
The ASX’s Code of Conduct says the «ASX must put its reputation at the centre of everything it does.»
Dr Henry is a member of the ASX’s Audit and Risk Committee, which approved the Code of Conduct in March 2018.
The Governance Institute of Australia and Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees — both members of the ASX Corporate Governance Council — said they could not comment on the matter.
The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia and Australian Shareholders’ Association were both contacted for comment but declined.
Stephen is Investment Editor at The Age and Sydney Morning Herald.