The Hong Kong Futures Exchange and its 120 members may spend more than $200 million converting Hang Seng Index futures and options contracts from open outcry to electronic trading. Futures exchange chief executive Randy Gilmore yesterday told the Provisional Legislative Council's financial affairs panel the exchange had decided to switch the contracts to electronic trading in the next 18 to 24 months. According to a survey carried out last December on 118 members who actively trade Hang Seng Index futures and options contracts, 86 agreed with the proposed change while 27 disagreed and five gave no response. Mr Gilmore said a fully electronic marketplace would require an estimated capital investment in excess of $100 million, with another $100 million needed for members to upgrade their dealing rooms. Of the 120 members of the futures exchange, only 73 have installed an electronic trading system. Provisional legislator Henry Wu King-cheong supported the move but urged the exchange to speed up its plans. Mr Gilmore said: 'A lot of members have never traded through the electronic trading system. 'It needs time for training and for the system to be installed. 'There is no comparable overseas experience moving high-volume futures or options contracts from outcry to electronic order matching system. We need to do it carefully.'