Richard Li Tzar-kai has tried to stave off the selling of shares in Tricom Holdings, his Cyberport flagship company, by binding shareholders into a lock-up agreement for a large part of their stakes until October 30. Star Telecom and other shareholders have agreed to lock up 34.8 per cent of Tricom shares outside Mr Li's Pacific Century Group, or 8.7 per cent of issued share capital. These shares will be locked up pending their placement with institutional investors. On the present timetable, this is expected to be completed by October. The shareholders bound by the accord signed up for an earlier share placement in May at 31 cents per share, a fraction of yesterday's closing price of $3.35. They are to receive these shares today, as that placement was conditional on the completion of Tricom's restructuring. Before the lock-up agreement, brokers had expected heavy profit-taking on Tricom shares this week, as the new holders dumped some of their shares on the open market. Brokers said lock-up agreement was intended to prevent the share price from falling in the next few days. 'It stops a collapse of the share price,' a broker said. The stock had already seen heavy trading and volatility this week. It fell 25 per cent on Wednesday, but edged up 1.51 per cent yesterday before the announcement of the lock-up agreement. The October placement of the existing shares will be led by Credit Suisse First Boston (CFSB). International road shows for the placement are to start next month. After the completion of the May placement, Star Telecom will hold 5.4 per cent of Tricom, while other placees will have 17.8 per cent. Parent company Pacific Century Group, which is chaired by Mr Li, and its subsidiaries hold 75 per cent of the company. They are not participating in the placement of the existing shares in October. 'Obviously, we understand that the initial shareholders have already made many times their money,' Mr Li said yesterday. 'We helped CSFB in approaching these shareholders and . . . said it would be best for their own interest to sell some of their shares in the open market, but also sell some in the United States and European institutional markets.' Tricom would benefit from having more overseas institutions holding the stock, Mr Li said. 'Most houses [in Hong Kong] are still more equipped to cover bricks and mortars businesses than Internet businesses,' he said. Lehman Brothers yesterday released a report that valued the company at $5.31 a share, a 58 per cent premium on yesterday's closing price.