Ten investment banks will meet the board of Exchange Fund Investment (EFI) over the next three days as the race to join its advisory panel enters the final stages. EFI will choose three from a shortlist of 10 to form a panel to advise on the sale of the Government's $158 billion share portfolio. The shortlisted banks are understood to be: ING Barings, Jardine Fleming, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, ABN Amro, HSBC, Credit Suisse First Boston, SBC Warburg Dillon Read and Deutsche Morgan Grenfell. The meetings will be a key factor in EFI's final selection, which will be made at a board meeting in March. Each bank will take part in an hour-long meeting which will involve a 30-minute presentation and a question-and-answer session. The meetings will be held from today until Saturday. Among the candidates, Morgan Stanley's meeting is scheduled for today and Jardine Fleming's for Saturday. EFI director Eric Li Ka-cheung confirmed EFI had drawn up a shortlist and would meet the banks individually, but declined to give further details. 'Strong commitment to Hong Kong would be a major consideration to choose the investment banks,' Mr Li said. 'The bank would need to have operated their business in Hong Kong for a long time.' It is understood EFI will also take into consideration where the banks are headquartered; their comments and predictions on Hong Kong markets; their opinions on the Hong Kong dollar peg system and their past trading practices. Taken together, EFI will use these factors to determine the banks' commitment to Hong Kong. Sources said EFI would like to pick one local bank, one US bank and one European bank for the advisory panel. Home-grown Jardine Fleming, US-based Goldman Sachs and Swiss-based Credit Suisse First Boston are seen as front runners by the market. EFI was set up in October to manage the shares bought by the Government during August's market intervention, together with shares formerly held by the Land Fund. The portfolio was valued at $158 billion in mid-December. The panel will propose the terms for the disposal of the Government's stock portfolio and execute it. EFI received about 20 proposals from banks it wrote to, and shortlisted up to 10 individual interviews, sources said. Mr Li said the final selections would depend on the banks' experience in handling international placements. They would also need to have a worldwide network to carry out international placements, he said. EFI chairman Yang Ti Liang has identified four ways of disposing of the portfolio: share placements, public auction, unitisation and structured convertible bond issues. Some banks raised concern over a potential conflict of interest with the inclusion of ING Barings and HSBC on the shortlist. Mr Yang's son works for the ING Barings Group in London, while the Government is HSBC's largest shareholder with an 8.81 per cent stake.