THE stock exchange will attempt to grow by attracting secondary listings of major international firms next year because it does not expect the number of new listings to hit another record. Executive director and head of listings Herbert Hui told the American Chamber of Commerce yesterday that the exchange would carry out this strategy by talking with international investment and accounting firms about potential listing candidates. ''I would like to see a Sanyo or a Coca-Cola because it stands to reason that if they're developing a foothold in China, having a presence in Hong Kong would make a lot of commercial sense,'' he said. In August, Standard Chartered Bank said it would seek a secondary listing in Hong Kong and Singapore. Mr Hui said several firms, including Rothmans, had expressed interest. With Hong Kong's robust equity market attractive for flotations, 45 companies went public during the first eight months of this year. The total for the year is expected easily to break last year's record of 54. However, Mr Hui said there would be fewer new listings next year because fewer smaller firms were likely to go public. ''It will not be high growth,'' he said. ''Instead, we will concentrate on the listing of large companies and [mainland] companies listing here.'' Mr Hui said the exchange did not base its success on the number of new listings, adding that 15 to 20 per cent of listing candidates this year had been rejected. The listing department was also looking at developing other sectors, he said, including increasing the number of debt securities listed. He said a working group was studying how the exchange could capitalise on the growing interest in debt securities, while ensuring that the listing of these investment vehicles was done as efficiently as possible. The underlying problem, he said, was that the rules covering listed debt securities had been drafted with equities in mind. There are now about 20 publicly traded debt securities in Hong Kong, all carrying AAA ratings. Mr Hui said the increasing use of convertible preference shares was healthy because it helped develop more interest in Hong Kong counters among European investors. He said the listing rules prevented companies from issuing convertible shares that exceeded 20 per cent of their issued share capital. Last week, Amoy Properties issued convertible preference shares, raising $250 million. China Travel International also announced plans last Friday to raise capital through a convertible scrip issue. Earlier this year, Dao Heng Holdings issued $380 million of cumulative preference shares to fund the purchase of Overseas Trust Bank. Mr Hui said Hong Kong now had the world's seventh largest stock exchange, with market capitalisation of $1.89 trillion, ranking just behind the Toronto Stock Exchange. Four years ago, market capitalisation was $605 million. Mr Hui said despite the exchange's success in the past four years, it was important that participants should not become complacent with its good fortune. ''One must bear in mind that investor confidence can disappear very quickly,'' he said. ''I think the lessons we learned in 1987 have not been lost on us.''