SINGAPORE, Oct 4 (Reuters) - Singapore will allow companies to issue different classes of shares, its Finance Ministry said, a move that may in time help its stock exchange win new listings.
"Companies will be allowed to issue non-voting shares and shares carrying multiple votes if their articles allow it and subject to certain safeguards," the Ministry of Finance said in a statement on Wednesday.
"This will give companies greater flexibility in raising capital, and meet different investor preferences."
There are, however, regulatory requirements to meet before the new rules come into force for listed companies.
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said in a subsequent speech that a dual-class structure for listed companies is still being considered by regulators including the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).
"The Singapore Exchange, in consultation with MAS, is studying whether listed companies should be allowed to issue non-voting shares and shares with multiple votes, if so what safeguards should apply," he said.
British soccer team Manchester United chose to list its shares in New York in August after initially considering the Singapore Exchange.
Difficulties in obtaining approval for its dual-class share offer in Singapore was cited as a major reason for the change in listing venue.
Singapore's Ministry of Finance said that the changes to its Companies Act were aimed at maintaining the city state's competitiveness as a business hub, as well as to reduce the regulatory burden on companies, and improve corporate governance.
Other changes include provisions that will exempt more small and medium-sized companies from performing audits, and lower their cost of compliance.