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Small victory over big broking houses

IN what will be seen as an election which failed to live up to the international ambitions of the rest of the financial community, the almost 600 members of the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong who voted yesterday played their expected parochial and well-orchestrated game.

But by leaving off the council some of biggest and most active houses in the industry, they have sent a message to the Government that the membership is not ready to see the exchange handed over to the international houses.

The rejections of Phillip Tose of Peregrine, who has built up a powerful regional house with strong links to China, and the loss of the seat of Allan Murray of Jardine Fleming, the most firmly established all-rounder in the market, were especially significant.

This could be seen as a backlash against the drive towards a more internationally controlled market. Also neglected was Daniel Poon of SBCI Hong Kong - controlled by Swiss Bank Corp - which has recently moved its global head of equities trading to Hong Kong.

The new representatives of Constituency A, the large brokerages, will be Tony Fung Wing-cheung of SHK Investment Services, part of the powerful Sun Hung Kai combine, Dennis Lam Haw-shun of the Japanese colossus, Nomura, David Roberts of H G (Asia) and John Seto Gin-chung of Wardley.

The firms they represent are highly respected members of the international broking community, and these elected members will be expected to push the needs of the international players. None, however, has the same twin strengths in both the domestic and international markets as Peregrine and Jardine Fleming.

The same drift away from the obviously international players was seen in the closely fought Constituency B section, where John Mulcahy of UBS Securities (HK) was unplaced. A veteran of the domestic market, Mr Mulcahy is a strong spokesman on Hong Kong financial issues.

The successful candidates in Constituency B were Bank of China Securities director Fung Chi-kin, Stephen Hui Chiu-chung of Seapower Securities, William Kwong Wai-tim, of New China Securities and Peter Wai Hark-wah of P W Asia.

Sidelined with Mr Mulcahy were Wataru Yumaguchi of Daiwa Securities (Asia) and Joseph Yu Lup-fat of Shanghai International HK Securities.

The most closely monitored group could well be the Constituency C members. The winners of the small brokers category yesterday were Henry Chan of Sanfull Securities, Chu Ho Miu-hing of Good Harvest and Co, Louis Ho Chi-wai of Wong Hang Share Brokerage and Dennis Lee Jor-hung of D L Brokerage.

These will be expected to defend the smaller brokerages against what many independents see as the threat of creeping internationalisation. If they see this as their main duty on the council, then some of the worst fears of those who wish to see Hong Kong more firmly established as a regional and international market by 1997 will be realised.

In a poll conducted last night among the winning candidates by Business Post, the message which was repeatedly echoed was that there is a need for closer links with China. That, many will say, is stating the obvious. What has to be recognised is that what China needs in Hong Kong is an international exchange which acts as a conduit to a much wider world and which can tap the real sources of global capital.

THE WINNERS Constituency A Tony Fung, SHK Investment Services; Dennis Lam, Nomura Securities (HK); David Roberts, H G Asia HK; John Seto, Wardley Securities (HK).

Constituency B Fung Chi-kin, Bank of China Securities; Stephen Hui, Seapower Securities; William Kwong, New China HK Securities; Peter Wai, P W Asia Brokerage.