HKEx cuts board lots to 500 units

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 June, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 June, 2006, 12:00am

Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing, Asia's largest stock exchange by market value, will cut the size of its stock's board lots to 500 shares from 2,000 shares on June 26, making it easier for retail investors to buy the shares.

Brokers said the move might help silence critics who had said the exchange's shares were held mainly by institutional investors or international hedge funds as it was relatively expensive for retail investors to buy them.

'The board believes that the reduced board lot size may facilitate the trading and improve the liquidity of the shares and enable the company to attract more investors and broaden its shareholder base,' HKEx said in an announcement last night.

Based on the exchange's closing price yesterday at $52.95, it would cost investors $105,900 to buy one board lot. After the reduction, it will cost just $26,475 for one lot, which is in line with many other stocks.

The exchange's shares rose to a record $64.60 on May 12 amid expectations that the stock and futures exchange operator will benefit from the continued listings of huge mainland corporates.

Meanwhile, a Securities and Futures Commission survey showed that half of Hong Kong's retail investors made profits from their investments last year and about one in five buyers suffered losses.

In a review of their stock investments in either the first or second half last year, 53.4 per cent of investors reported profits, 21.4 per cent reported losses, 0.2 per cent said they broke even and 25 per cent said they did not know or were not sure.

The study, which polled 500 investors in February, also found that while 82 per cent of respondents subscribed to initial public offerings last year, only about 45 per cent of the investors had read the listing prospectuses.

About 82 per cent of those who did not read the prospectuses found the documents too long and 57 per cent said they were too 'legalistic'.

As a result, 52 per cent said newspapers and radio and television programmes were better sources of information about the listing candidates.

The survey found that 48 per cent of the investors relied on commentators' recommendations in newspapers, television and radio to make investment decisions.

'Investors must be aware that given the constraints on air time or column space, the assumptions behind investment research reports and recommendations are often not included,' SFC chairman Martin Wheatley said.