Do corporate web sites in Africa communicate investor information according to best practice guidelines?
The original article is available at http://www.sajim.co.za/
Corporate Web sites have become very popular media of information over the past decade. The Investor Relations Society published best practice Web site guidelines in December 2006 to guide companies seeking to improve the quality of their on-line communication with investors via their corporate Web sites. Guidelines were given for presentation (the way in which information is communicated) and content (the information that is communicated). This study focused only on content. A 20-point checklist was developed from the prescribed best practice. The checklist focused on the six categories of best practice that entail company information, annual reports of the current year and archive, relevant news, shareholder information, bondholder information, corporate governance and corporate responsibility. Seventy-eight companies in Africa (40 from South Africa and 38 from the 'rest of Africa', that is Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria and Tunisia) were evaluated against this checklist. Companies from the 'rest of Africa' rated lower than South African companies in all categories on the checklist. Although South African companies received ratings above 90% for all categories, besides bondholder information, many of these companies do not supply shareholder, corporate governance and corporate responsibility information via dedicated sections on their corporate Web sites. The results for companies from the 'rest of Africa' were disappointing, especially with regard to communication of annual reports, shareholder information, bondholder information and corporate responsibility. Although possible reasons for these disappointing results are discussed in this study, further research should be conducted to determine the reason(s) why important elements of information are not communicated via corporate Web sites.