The Singapore stock exchange has announced a package of wide-ranging changes to its listing rules to lure more initial public offerings (IPOs), just days after Hong Kong announced its own review. The changes include reducing lock-up periods for original shareholders and accepting US accountancy standards in a bid to attract more high-technology start-ups keen on taking out dual or secondary listings in Singapore and the United States. The Singapore exchange's latest revamp, its third and most aggressive in 10 months, is expected to intensify its race with Hong Kong to become East Asia's premier financial exchange outside Japan for equities, debt paper and, especially, hi-tech IPOs. Hong Kong regulators last week said they had begun a review of listing rules for the Growth Enterprise Market (GEM) three months ahead of schedule. Stock exchange chief executive Alec Tsui Yiu-wa said some of the GEM's listing rules were 'tougher than those in overseas markets', which had forced the exchange to grant many waivers to stay competitive. Several GEM companies, including the Li Ka-shing group's Tom.com, have received waivers enabling management shareholders to sell shares six months after listing instead of two years. The Singapore exchange halved the moratorium period before which original substantial shareholders of newly listed firms on its main board can sell down their stakes. Venture capitalists typically like to be able to redeem their funds as soon as possible to back other companies after a successful hi-tech IPO launch. At present, original shareholders are barred from selling any of their shares during the first year after a main-board IPO in Singapore, and only 50 per cent in the second year. This will be shortened to a six-month moratorium followed by a six-month period during which they can sell up to half their stakes. This will bring Singapore's main board in line with the looser minimum lock-in period already enjoyed for listings on Singapore's second board, the Sesdaq. From April 1, Singapore will also now accept listings from companies that follow US accounting standards, known as Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. This should make it easier for Singapore-listed companies, especially hi-tech firms, to take out dual or secondary listings in the US, either on the Nasdaq Stock Market or the New York Stock Exchange. The Singapore exchange will also adopt International Organisation of Securities Commission disclosure standards, in another move to aid cross-border and foreign listings. To bolster its bond market, initial and annual listing fees for Singapore dollar debt securities will be reduced. Singapore's regulations will be tightened in just one key area. A cap is to be placed on how many shares an investor may get in an IPO, to avoid a repeat of the Mid-Continent fiasco of July 1998, where just five individuals, acting in concert, cornered 90 per cent of its IPO shares.