The stock exchange listing committee plans to halve the amount of new shares that can be issued to raise cash under a general mandate to 10 per cent of the total share capital to enhance investor protection. However, listing committee chairman Moses Cheng Mo-chi yesterday said the 20 per cent general mandate threshold should remain when companies were seeking assets or acquisitions. The proposals, which will be the subject of a consultation paper, are aimed at answering criticism from corporate governance advocates, who say the current general mandate rules result in shareholders' investments being diluted too much. But one such advocate, exchange director David Webb, last night said he was not satisfied with the proposal. Mr Webb has been pressing for a 5 per cent cap on general mandates to raise cash without seeking shareholder approval. 'It has not gone far enough,' he said, adding that in Britain, the general mandate for companies to issue new shares for cash was capped at a 7.5 per cent total over a three-year period. 'If Hong Kong wants to be an international financial centre, it should follow the international practice,' he said. Earlier this year, Bank of East Asia shareholders voted down a bid to renew a general mandate allowing the firm to issue 20 per cent of new shares, while BOC Hong Kong (Holdings) shareholders passed a resolution similar to the listing committee proposals. Meanwhile, the Securities and Futures Commission yesterday called on Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing to improve the transparency of its listing procedures. Commission executive director Peter Au-Yang said the exchange practices were adequate to maintain an orderly and fair market but it had failed to inform the market of a new vetting approach. The criticism came in the SFC's first annual report on HKEx's listing performance. In one example, the SFC said the exchange's compliance and monitoring department had conducted a pilot project allowing some company announcements to be published without prior vetting. 'Although the department has expressed confidence that the market understands its new post-vetting policy, we have received feedback that there is a misunderstanding over which announcements require the department's prior approval and which do not,' the SFC said. The SFC also recommended the exchange institute a comprehensive risk-based programme for reviewing listed companies' periodic reports. 'Changing the exchange's established practice or approach without warning may disrupt listing applicants' timetables and confuse the market,' the SFC report said. HKEx chief executive Paul Chow Man-yiu said it would hold further discussions with the SFC on the recommendations.