Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing will consult the market in the fourth quarter on the controversial plan to set up a 'professional board' in the city, according to chief executive Paul Chow Man-yiu. Mr Chow (right) said the consultation would proceed as scheduled, dashing speculation that the plan had been shelved. 'The HKEx board of directors on May 14 approved the budget for the consultation ... the listing committee endorsed [it] on May 29,' Mr Chow said after attending a listing ceremony at the local exchange yesterday. 'We will release a consultation paper in the fourth quarter this year. One of the key issues to be addressed is the definition of professional investors.' The proposed professional board would ban retailers from trading and could adopt a more flexible approach to new listings. The launch of such a market aims to attract more overseas companies to list in Hong Kong. Shareholder activist David Webb has opposed the plan, arguing this might lower the quality of the market. He cited his disagreement with other directors over launching the professional board as one of the reasons he resigned as a director of the exchange last month. Chairman Ronald Arculli had said the professional board was only a proposal and the exchange would collect the market's opinion about the proposed market in a consultation. Mr Chow also said the exchange would start from July 1 to accept applications from companies that want to list on the local stock market through Hong Kong depositary receipts. This would allow some overseas companies, barred by their home countries from listing directly overseas, to list in the city via Hong Kong depositary receipts. Market watchers said some Russian companies had been looking for opportunities to list in Hong Kong by issuing depositary receipts.