September 5, 2017 / 2:43 AM / a year ago

Hong Kong needs new ways to lure more tech listings: HKEX CEO

Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited Chief Executive Charles Li attends an interview by Reuters in Hong Kong, China September 5, 2017. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Hong Kong needs to find new ways to attract so-called new-economy companies to stay competitive, Charles Li, chief executive of bourse operator Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd (HKEX) (0388.HK), told Reuters on Tuesday.

In June, HKEX started a consultation on the launch of a third board that could allow companies to list with dual-class share structures and would target companies in sectors such as the internet and bio-tech.

Public consultation ended last month, with financial industry professionals still divided over the matter.

Some bankers and corporate governance experts have expressed concern that a third board could lower governance standards in the city, which has seen a series of corporate scandals that have rattled investors and battered some stocks.

Li said public interest wouldn’t be compromised for profitability.

“Public interest is number one,” he said.

“The key is the market will understand that the bulk of the listing rule regulation is still going to be at the exchange (HKEX) but the SFC will take a proactive role whenever they see fit,” he said, referring to the Securities & Futures Commission of Hong Kong.

The HKEX chief, speaking at a Reuters Newsmaker event in Hong Kong, also said he saw a sharp increase in international companies raising capital in Hong Kong since the start of the Hong Kong-Shenzhen stock connect, which allows non-Chinese investors to buy Shenzhen-listed shares via Hong Kong.

Reporting by Pete Sweeney; Additional reporting by Sumeet Chatterjee and Elzio Barreto; Writing by James Pomfret; Editing by Stephen Coates

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