Key shareholders of PCCW have given their financial commitment to the company's telecommunications-assets spin-off, despite lukewarm demand for this business-trust initial public offering - the first of its kind in Hong Kong. In a filing with the Hong Kong stock exchange yesterday, PCCW chairman Richard Li Tzar-kai said Pacific Century Regional Developments, Pacific Century Diversified, Pacific Century Group Holdings and Eisner Investments had applied to take up in full their respective 'assured entitlements' to the reserved 'share stapled units' in HKT Trust and operating company HKT. A stake in a trust is in units, not shares. Those four companies hold 21.29 per cent, 3.27 per cent, 2.13 per cent and 0.46 per cent, respectively, of the issued shares in telecommunications and media giant PCCW. The assured entitlements make up about 2.75 per cent of the total number of share stapled units initially offered for subscription under the Hong Kong public offering, which closed at noon yesterday. The international offering is continuing. Of the 2.05 billion share stapled units on offer under the global IPO, 207.78 million units are to be sold by way of a preferential offering in Hong Kong to qualified PCCW shareholders as an assured entitlement based on their stakes in the company. Qualified shareholders to the assured entitlements must pay: the maximum price of HK$5.38 per unit applied for; a 1 per cent brokerage fee; a Securities and Futures Commission transaction levy of 0.003 per cent; and a stock exchange trading fee of 0.005 per cent. A board lot of 1,000 reserved share stapled units under the preferential offering would cost HK$5,434. A business trust allows companies to raise cash while without releasing control of the listed units. Li yesterday also advised PCCW that Eisner Investments, which he wholly owns, would apply for 200 million additional reserved share stapled units by way of excess application. That would take up about half of the additional 408.23 million share stapled units meant to satisfy excess applications under the preferential offering. Louis Tse Ming-kwong, a director at VC Brokerage, said the commitment made by Li and other PCCW shareholders would not make a difference in the business trust offering since 'the reception from the market remains lukewarm'. 'Small retail investors are not interested as there are a lot of cheaper stocks they can buy, sell and get an immediate return on,' Tse said. 'This business trust is more suitable for pensioners and people with passive funds looking at a medium-term investment with stable income.' As the controlling holder of the business trust, PCCW has committed to a six-month lock-up period for disposal of share stapled units. The allotment results and the offer price will be announced on or before November 28. The public listing of the share stapled units is expected to begin on November 29.