Outgoing Securities and Futures Commission chairman Andrew Sheng has refused to speculate on who might succeed him, but he has disclosed how he plans to occupy his time once he leaves the regulatory body in September. 'My plan is to join a university as a fellow and to write a book about the Asian financial crisis and corporate governance,' Mr Sheng said yesterday at his final SFC year-end briefing. 'I think the exercise would take at least six months.' He declined to say whether he would include the 2002 penny-stock crisis in his book. 'Wait for the book,' he said. It was the most controversial incident during Mr Sheng's seven-year tenure as SFC chairman. Investors dumped low-priced stocks after Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing issued a consultation paper proposing delisting of shares trading below 50 cents. HKEx was compelled to withdraw the paper four days after its release and its chief executive, Kwong Ki-chi, resigned in November that year. Mr Sheng survived that incident, but his relationship with the government, according to some observers, soured. Earlier this month, he declared he would not stay on when his contract expires in September, after the government floated a proposal to split his current job into non-executive chairman and chief executive. 'The government would definitely be able to find someone who can do a better job than I,' he said. 'According to my personal experience, I believe my successor, like myself and any regulator, would find the most serious challenge will be to strike a balance between market development and investor protection.' In his final year-end briefing on the securities watchdog's activities, Mr Sheng reported a surplus of $122 million for the nine months to the end of last month, driven mainly by a 23 per cent annual revenue increase to $456 million on more active market turnover. Expenditures for the nine-month period totalled $332 million. Nineteen investigations were conducted in the 18 months since the Securities and Futures Ordinance was implemented in April last year, compared with eight during the previous 18 months. In addition, 20 cases have been transferred to the police or the Independent Commission Against Corruption during the period. 'The higher number does not reflect a decline in the quality of our market, but rather a stepping up of our efforts,' Mr Sheng said. He said cracking down on company misconduct would continue to be his mission in his remaining nine months on the job. He plans to keep a close eye on 'Macau concept' stocks to check for false disclosure or misleading statements about their business plans. Another task is the tightening of regulations on sponsors of listed companies. The SFC is scheduled to release a consultation paper in the first quarter to set new licensing criteria for sponsors. The SFC will also consult the market on a proposal to relax restrictions on real-estate investment trusts investing in overseas property, and study the possible adoption of European directives under UCITS III, or the undertaking for collective investment in transferable securities, which would widen the scope of permissible instruments, such as derivatives, available to fund managers.