Listing reforms necessary, says HK securities regulator

HONG KONG • The securities regulator in Hong Kong said yesterday that the number of inquiries into market manipulation and insider trading has doubled in recent years, making it necessary to change listing rules in the Asian financial hub.

Speaking at the Thomson Reuters Pan-Asian Regulatory Summit in Hong Kong, Mr Ashley Alder, chief executive of the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC), said it was too early to predict what the final listings reform will look like.

He disputed claims from critics that changes would "stunt" the local equities market.

The regulator proposed an overhaul of listing rules in June that critics said would curb the regulatory powers of the city's stock exchange and hand more authority to the SFC.

While the SFC said new rules would speed up decision-making for new listings, the proposed changes pitted international asset managers, who favoured the changes, against the city's banks and The Chamber of Hong Kong Listed Companies, a body that represents locally listed companies.

"This is all about a more efficient, accountable and transparent process," Mr Alder said. "The policy response to emerging issues... needs to be far more rapid, agile and well thought through than it has been in the past, and nothing illustrates that better than the protracted debate about weighted voting rights."

TIMELY CHANGES

The policy response to emerging issues... needs to be far more rapid, agile and well thought through than it has been in the past, and nothing illustrates that better than the protracted debate about weighted voting rights.

MR ASHLEY ALDER, chief executive of the Securities and Futures Commission.

Speaking at the same function, Mr Mark Austen, chief executive of the Asia Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, said new cyber security rules in China could make it harder for foreign companies operating in the country to manage risk as cyber threats become increasingly cross-border.

He said the rules marked a "worrying" development because regulators globally have to work together to address cyber risks rather than attempt to isolate their jurisdictions.

China adopted a cyber security law on Monday to counter what the government said were growing threats such as hacking and terrorism. Foreign business and rights groups expressed concern that the law could, for instance, bar foreign companies from certain sectors.

The legislation, set to take effect next June, includes requirements for security reviews and for data to be stored on servers in China.

Cyber security was propelled to the top of the financial services agenda in February when it emerged that hackers stole US$81 million (S$112.5 million) from the Central Bank of Bangladesh via Swift, the global financial messaging system. The funds were transferred to accounts in the Philippines and Sri Lanka.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 09, 2016, with the headline 'Listing reforms necessary, says HK securities regulator'. Print Edition | Subscribe