Thirty of Hong Kong's biggest banks and securities firms met last night to form a united opposition to a key government measure aimed at fighting speculators. The unprecedented alliance is expected to present a submission today to the Government, Hongkong Clearing and the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong stating that the strict imposition of the T+2 settlement deadline threatens Hong Kong's status as a leading financial centre. The alliance represents the first co-ordinated industry challenge to the Government's crackdown on trading practices in the wake of speculative attacks that have decimated share prices and threatened the Hong Kong dollar's pegged exchange rate. Last night's meeting was dominated by foreign firms, including Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs, but included representatives from fund management, custodian bank and the broking industry. Representatives from HSBC Securities and Jardine Fleming were also present at the meeting, which was held at the offices of ABN Amro Asia Securities. The head of one foreign broking firm at the gathering said it was hoped the alliance would take on the role of defending the international broking community, which has come under government attack for its role in the speculative attacks. 'The international broking community has been surprisingly silent about the criticisms. We are all too afraid to put our heads up and get some defence going,' he said. Exchange council member David Roberts, who convened the meeting, said opposition to the proposed T+2 deadline was growing. 'People are only now fully recognising the consequences of it and are willing to make their feelings known,' he said. Mr Roberts said the submission, which a sub-committee began drafting last night, would propose 'modifications' to the Government's strict enforcement policy. 'It's not going for T+2 lock, stock and barrel - it's T+2 with much more of the current flexibility built into it,' he said. Mr Roberts said it was hoped that the Government would also agree to see representatives from last night's meeting to discuss the proposals. The stock exchange faced losing trade in Hong Kong shares to London and New York if the deadline was enforced, he said. 'About 20 per cent of trading in Hong Kong shares is not done through the stock exchange, it's done in London and New York, and that percentage will only increase [if the deadline is enforced],' he said. Last week, the Government announced 30 proposals aimed at tightening control over the securities and futures market. At the heart of the measures was the scrapping of a two-day grace period following the official T+2 deadline for stock transactions. The proposal is aimed at restricting the short sale of shares and stinging speculators who had sold unsourced stock into the Government's massive share market intervention last month. Under Government pressure, the board of Hongkong Clearing last Wednesday approved the new deadline, which will see shares compulsorily bought in on T+3 if settlement is not concluded the previous day. However, the board insisted that a number of exemptions be permitted which will be voted on at a special meeting on Friday. Industry opposition to the deadline has been widespread, with brokers arguing that the schedule does not give enough time for foreign clients to conclude trades. Mr Roberts said it was not too late to convince the Government that the proposed changes were inappropriate. 'I don't think they have closed their mind,' he said. An exchange spokesman welcomed any industry feedback but noted that the official T+2 regulation had been in place for a number of years. 'It's a free market. Participants may have different views and they are allowed to vent their opinions,' he said.