Standard Chartered's hopes of enthusiastic support from small shareholders for its dual listing on the Hong Kong stock market have been dashed, with weak demand for its new share issue. The London-based worldwide banking group - which has a primary listing on the London Stock Exchange but earns about a third of its profits in Hong Kong - revealed yesterday that its Hong Kong public share offer, launched last week, attracted subscriptions for just 3,829,700 shares. That represented a subscription of only 1.25 times the 3.043 million shares on public offer. By comparison, the Bank of China (HK) public listing on July 25 was oversubscribed by 26 times when retail investors applied for $53.2 billion worth of shares, the most for a public offering this year. In yesterday's announcement, Standard Chartered said a further 27.391 million shares were placed with institutional investors, which meant small investors ended up with 13 per cent of the total offer. When the issue was launched on October 20, underwriters indicated that the bank was prepared to allocate up to 30 per cent of the shares to the public - a move that would have ensured greater trading volumes since big shareholders tend to hold their investments. The announcement also revealed the shares would be priced at $84 each, which meant the combined issue raised $2.56 billion in fresh capital for the bank. Putting a brave face on a reception described by analysts as 'disappointing', Standard Chartered said both its public offer and institutional offer had been 'comfortably oversubscribed'. 'Standard Chartered has achieved its stated objectives from the listing,' the statement said. 'With a dual primary listing on the [Stock Exchange of Hong Kong], the company is now able to access an enlarged investor base, including those funds in Asia and around the world which are specifically mandated to invest in Asian-listed stocks.' But before the data was released, bank officials had already gone into damage control, emphasising that the Bank of China issue was a first-time listing, while Standard Chartered was already listed in London and was not allowed to offer retail investors a sizeable discount. Closer examination of the subscription also suggests the bank barely cleared its public offering. It said that included in the final number of shares subscribed for in the public offer were 450,000 shares available under a preferential offer to Standard Chartered employees. Assuming these shares were subscribed for, actual demand by the public in Hong Kong would have been barely enough to take up the shares on offer. Simon Ho, banking analyst with Macquarie Research Equities, said Standard Chartered management would be disappointed with the level of interest in the issue. 'Particularly on the retail side, where the marketing efforts were not particularly strong - certainly not as strong as the marketing of the Bank of China issue,' he said. Analysts also pointed out that the weak interest in the shares among Hong Kong investors did not augur well for the volume of trading likely to be seen in the stock on the market.