HKEx 'open' to new boards idea

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 June, 2014, 5:58am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 June, 2014, 5:58am

Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing is "open-minded" about a top government advisory body's suggestion that the local stock market introduce more new boards to allow listings by companies with special share-holding structures, such as Alibaba or Jardine Matheson.

"HKEx will be open-minded in considering what is the right way forward to make changes, according to the needs of the market, but any reforms would need to have a public consultation first," chairman Chow Chung-kong said before a ceremony to celebrate its 14th anniversary. "The consultation is up to the listing committee to decide but I do hope it happens in the second half of this year."

The Financial Services Development Council suggested last week that HKEx follow the example of London in developing more new boards tailor-made for the needs of diverse investors and companies, including those with special shareholding structures.

We need to consider how to make changes to enhance our competitiveness
Charles Li, HKEx

Hong Kong missed out on the mega initial public offering of mainland e-commerce giant Alibaba Group last year, forcing it to look for a US listing.

In October, HKEx refused to grant Alibaba an exemption allowing it to list with a structure that would give its founder and certain executives the right to nominate the majority of board members even though they would hold only minority stakes. The US allows for such special shareholding structures.

HKEx chief executive Charles Li Xiaojia said the exchange would study new ideas such as the multi-board suggestion.

"We need to consider how to make changes to enhance our competitiveness," he said. "We will study if we can introduce a new board to meet special demands of any companies."

Li also said HKEx would continue to invest in the open-outcry trading floor of the London Metal Exchange, known as the "ring". HKEx purchased LME in December 2012.

At the time of the purchase, it was agreed that the ring would be kept until at least next year but after a six-month review, the LME said it would be retained for longer, even though many exchanges, including the HKEx, have turned to electronic trading.

"We will continue to keep the ring open because we believe the ring serves a very important role in the price discovery process of the LME," he said. "It is an important element of the LME and we will continue to invest in it. We will also invest in other parts of the LME."

The LME said this year it would invest £1 million (HK$13.2 million) to improve the ring's technology and facilities.