Software firm Excel Technology's initial public offer closed more than 30 times oversubscribed yesterday, giving a lift to the depressed market for technology stocks. The response was the best for a Growth Enterprise Market (GEM) public share sale since Sunevision Holdings' IPO was 218 times oversubscribed in March. However, analysts cautioned the warm response owed much to Excel's backing by Cheung Kong (Holdings) and should not be taken as a benchmark. Cheung Kong has a 7.2 per cent stake in the company, which could be increased to 11.2 per cent if convertible notes are exercised. The Li Ka-shing group flagship also has first rights on joint ventures with Excel that do not require a technical partner. Excel's institutional offer was 17 times oversubscribed, according to sources. The IPO subscription was not finalised but would be at least 30 times over, they said. Despite the strong demand, the issue was priced at HK$1.38, against the company's indicated range of HK$1.35 to HK$1.40. An investment banker involved in the share sale said this was because '1.4 is not a lucky number, while 1.38 is'. Excel is selling 150 million new shares: 22.5 million, or 15 per cent, to the public and the rest to institutional investors by private placement. Based on the issue price, Excel will raise HK$207 million from the offer. Its shares will start trading on the GEM on Friday. The GEM IPO record is held by Cheung Kong's Internet venture Tom.com, which was 669 times oversubscribed at the height of Hong Kong's Internet love affair in February. Since Sunevision was listed in March, 11 more companies have floated on the GEM but none has had a subscription ratio of more than five times, with most barely fully subscribed. Market observers said Excel's share offering result was unique and was not a good indicator of the market's appetite for technology stocks or new listings. They said general market sentiment remained sluggish, as indicated by the GEM index and turnover of GEM stocks. The GEM index closed at 503.51 points yesterday, down 51.8 per cent from its high of 1,045.32 on March 27 and about half of its base level in March. Waning investor interest is also underlined by thin turnover on GEM, which was down to an anaemic HK$94.63 million yesterday. A market analyst said Cheung Kong was an important factor but Excel's business prospects were also a reason to buy the shares. However, the banker agreed the general market was still weak and investors should not expect every upcoming issue to have the same success. Meanwhile, Chinese television operator Phoenix Satellite Television Holdings has closed its international offering early due to strong demand. Both the international sale and IPO were due to close on Monday. Market sources said Phoenix's institutional offer had been more than four times oversubscribed.