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Mixed reactions to HKEX's New Board proposal

“If the New Board materializes, we could have around eight to 10 companies qualified to be listed,” he said. “Their technology development has matured and business plans are valid.”

Apart from HKSTP, Cyberport also welcomes the New Board proposal. Cyberport conducted a survey to collect views from startups, tech companies, investors and industry bodies in July. More than 90% of Cyberport’s digital tech companies agreed that the proposed New Board would have a positive impact on Hong Kong’s ability to advance the growth of the new economy companies.

Concerns on listing

Mok raised specific concerns on the proposed New Board particularly on the admission requirements.

For New Board PRO issuers, HKEX has proposed a requirement of minimum 100 investors at the time of listing.

“It will be challenging for startups to get the minimum 100 professional investors. The listing and compliance costs are also an issue,” he said.

The balance between investor protection and adequate liquidity is another concern. He said the lack of liquidity is a problem found in the current GEM board (Growth Enterprise Market), and the same problem should not be repeated in the New Board.

The Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) and HKEX observed that the shares of many GEM issuers lacked an open market and were concentrated among a small group of shareholders. As a result, the shares were not freely tradable and had caused high volatility in the share prices of those GEM issuers.

“We have to strike the right balance. We want to attract professional investors and at the same time to create enough liquidity,” he noted.

He also urged the regulator and industry practitioners to be cautious to prevent a dot-com bubble in the New Board.

 

“We don't want to see investors that are not really investing in the companies with real potential or new technologies but simply creating a situation similar to the old dot-com days,” he warned. “I think the market is a lot smarter now but we have to be careful.”



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