Hong Kong exchange on Friday published a consultation paper seeking public feedback on the proposed new rules to expand Hong Kong's listing regime to attract listings of companies from emerging and innovative sectors.
The public comment period will last for a month and end on March 23, according to the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited (the Exchange), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEX).
The proposals in the consultation paper closely follow the way forward as set out by the Exchange on Dec. 15 in 2017 in the New Board Concept Paper Conclusions.
The paper includes draft Main Board Listing Rules to permit listings of biotech issuers that do not meet any of the financial eligibility tests of the Main Board, to permit listings of companies with weighted voting right (WVR) structures, and to establish a new concessionary secondary listing route for companies that wish to secondary list in Hong Kong.
The Exchange has proposed separate new chapters in the Listing Rules for biotech, WVR and the new concessionary secondary listing route.
"In the past few months we have collectively decided to take a big step forward as a financial center and welcome emerging and innovative companies. Now, we are proposing a listing regime that will boost Hong Kong's attractiveness for a new generation of companies as well as investors, bringing more dynamism to our stock market," said HKEX Chief Executive Charles Li.
"Significant momentum has been built for making Hong Kong's capital markets more relevant and even more competitive. We thank all market participants and invite them to help us put the finishing touches on the proposed rule amendments through this latest consultation," Li said.
In its proposals, the Exchange offers specific guidance on the listing eligibility for pre-profit or pre-revenue biotech issuers that produce pharmaceuticals (small molecule drugs), biologics, and medical devices (including diagnostics). Manufacturers of other biotech products will be considered on a case by case basis.
Since issuers listed under the proposed biotech chapter would not meet any of the financial eligibility tests of the Main Board, these issuers potentially carry additional risks to investors.
Accordingly, the proposals include detailed eligibility and suitability criteria for determining appropriate applicants, a higher market capitalization requirement, enhanced disclosure requirements as well as restrictions on fundamental changes of business.
The consultation paper has been posted on the HKEX website.