Pascutto has delicate task

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 November, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 27 November, 1994, 12:00am

FINANCIAL Secretary Sir Hamish Macleod announced in his Budget this year a review of the Companies Ordinance.

His choice to head up the review, announced last week, is Canadian lawyer Ermanno Pascutto, a man who has been in the thick of Hong Kong's regulatory regime as a former SFC deputy chairman and who understands better than most the complex issues surrounding the review.

The move is long overdue. That is not to say that the Standing Committee on Company Law Reform has failed in its task. But there comes a time when you need to replace an entire structure rather than continually bolt on new additions.

Do not expect radical changes, however. The finished product is likely to be a streamlined version of the original based rather more on Hong Kong and China requirements and less on British models.

But there are delicate areas. One is the treatment of foreign-domiciled companies whose assets and operations are located in Hong Kong. Another is whether small private companies and large listed companies should be forced to comply with the same statutory requirements.

These questions are potential minefields for the review and will require careful navigation. Mr Pascutto has urged the territory's professionals and business people to air their views and it is imperative that this piece of legislative change receive as wide an input a possible to ensure Hong Kong's future into the next century.