In an unprecedented move, one of the first two companies to be listed on the Growth Enterprise Market is seeking approval to switch from the beleaguered second board to the main board. Fertiliser maker China Agrotech Holdings said yesterday it had submitted an application to Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing for a main-board listing last Friday. The company is also seeking the exchange's approval to withdraw from the GEM. However, such a withdrawal is subject to obtaining a listing on the main board. The news was a big blow to the market's sentiment towards the already-battered GEM, analysts said. However, exchange spokesman Henry Law said Agrotech's plan would have no impact on the GEM's operation. 'Whichever board is suitable for a company to list is up to itself,' said Mr Law. The Fujian-based company did not give any reason for the proposed switch. However analysts speculated the move was related to the lack of liquidity in the GEM and poor price performance. The GEM index, a tracker of companies' share price performance, lost more than 83 per cent from its peak of 1,021 points from March last year to yesterday's close of 170.27 points. Despite Agrotech producing strong earnings growth since its GEM listing on November 25, its shares have failed to excite. Agrotech doubled its net profit to HK$60.59 million for the year to June 30. However, its shares finished at HK$1.21 yesterday, barely above its first issue price of HK$1.20. Agrotech, the first GEM company seeking to dump its listing status, could set an example for others considering switching to the main board, according to investment bankers. The bankers said many GEM companies had been considering a move but had not done so because of the lack of a board-switching mechanism. GEM companies such as semiconductor solutions provider Arcontech had expressed interest in switching, believing that its shares would have much better liquidity if transferred to the main board. 'Most retail investors have already turned their backs on the market since last year's technology stocks downturn,' the company's chief executive Leo Tsoi Siu-ching said. Early this year, some GEM companies and sponsors urged the exchange to set up a mechanism to facilitate firms switching boards. However, the exchange refused because it was worried that such a mechanism could cause the GEM to slip to a second-grade market. Some investment bankers said Agrotech's application to switch boards would not face major difficulties if it met the main board listing requirements. Unlike applicants to the GEM - which does not require a profit track record - main board applicants must have recorded a combined profit of at least HK$50 million over the previous three years.