BERMUDA, well-known as the favourite offshore domicile of local companies, is striving to promote its stock exchange to lure listings from Hong Kong. The recent surge in interest in using other jurisdictions for listings has prompted a rethink of Bermuda's strategy as an offshore financial centre. While contemplating new products for the centre, Bermuda's exchange has focused on getting more listings. Michael Spurling, resident partner of Appleby, Spurling & Kempe, one of the two largest law firms in Bermuda, said: 'Bermuda will accept a company that is regulated by a recognised stock exchange such as Hong Kong's.' The exchange recently hired William Woods, director of International Securities Consultants, as its chief executive. Mr Woods has been an outspoken critic of Hong Kong's exchange and co-authored a controversial report entitled 'The Right Way Forward' which gave details of how it should go about maintaining competitiveness. 'There are already one to two applications from overseas companies in the pipeline as a pilot project,' Mr Spurling said. Listing on the Bermuda exchange was substantially cheaper than elsewhere because companies were faced with less onerous regulations and due diligence, he said. The cost of listing would be about US$25,000 plus some professional costs. 'It is fully electronic and has only one hour's difference with the New York Stock Exchange,' he said. Listing in Bermuda would allow a company's shares to be traded in both hemispheres. With more than 250 locally-listed companies already domiciled in Bermuda, the potential for the growth of such business may seem limited. But secondary market activities, such as fund-raising, generate revenue consistently. Adding to Bermuda's appeal is the structure of purpose trusts and special-purpose vehicles for use in asset securitisation. The vehicle traditionally used for securitisation was the 'charitable trust', challenged in court lately for not having a charitable purpose. A majority of the asset-backed securities issued in Hong Kong in the past year were done through a Bermuda purpose trust and special-purpose vehicle.