Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing has agreed with other exchanges to upgrade facilities to shorten settlement times by 2003, according to chief executive Kwong Ki-chi. The exchange would upgrade the clearing system next year so that by 2003 settlement would take place one day after a trade was made (T+1), Mr Kwong told the Asia Securities Analysts Federation 2001 Conference yesterday. Under existing settlement rules, the buyer of a stock needs to pay only two days after a trade is made, while the seller has two days to deliver. 'There has been a worldwide trend to shorten settlement times, and Hong Kong needs to follow suit. A shorter settlement time would help reduce risks in the market,' Mr Kwong said. The market would be consulted before any such move. Mr Kwong also said he was confident the exchange would receive approval from the Securities and Futures Commission within three months to launch an equity-linked notes (ELNs) platform for professional investors. ELNs are a derivative product allowing investors to bet on the movement of a stock's price. The HKEx hopes to launch an ELN platform that will compete with property giant Cheung Kong (Holdings') iMarkets, which also trades ELNs for professional investors. Mr Kwong said a consultation had found support to extend trading hours but not for an evening session from 8pm to 11pm.