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Hong Kong stock exchange to revisit dual-class shareholding structure proposal

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Hong Kong stock exchange to revisit dual-class shareholding structure proposal

The Hong Kong stock exchange is once again looking to introduce a dual-class shareholding structure through the launch of a third board to allow more listings from new-economy and technology companies, the South China Morning Post reported Jan. 19.

The crux of the matter will be whether a dual-class share structure should be introduced in Hong Kong, said Charles Li Xiaojia, CEO of Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd.

Consultation on the third board, which could host both startups and well-established companies, will cover issues including the dual-class structure, what companies will be allowed to list, who should be allowed to trade and the introduction of a delisting mechanism to remove poor performers, Li said.

In 2014, HKEx proposed a share structure that would have allowed one class of shareholders more rights than the other. However, the previous push to adopt this structure was shot down by the city's Securities and Futures Commission due to insufficient protection for investors.

SFC Chairman Carlson Tong Ka-shing said he supported the opening of the Hong Kong bourse to a more diverse range of companies, but noted he could not comment further until the proposals were more fleshed out.

Dual-class share structures are popular with global technology giants such as Google Inc. and Facebook Inc. Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. had considered listing in Hong Kong, but scrapped its plan because the tech group wanted a different structure that the local bourse could not offer.

The listing rules in Hong Kong are outdated and do not meet the needs of new-economy firms, Alibaba Chairman Jack Ma has told SCMP.