Following is the speech by the Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Mr Frederick Ma, at the spring reception of the Hong Kong Capital Markets Association (HKCMA) today (February 13) (English only):
Helen, Brian, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Kung Hei Fat Choy and Happy Year of the Ram! No, I should say Year of the "GOAT"! "G" for Good; "O" for Offers and "A" "T" for Active Trading.
It is indeed my honour to be invited to the HKCMA Spring Cocktail, and a pleasure to meet the key players in the Hong Kong bond market.
Although the Hong Kong dollar bond market is the not-so-well developed relative of our financial services family, it has made significant progress over the last couple of years. As Helen has said just now, new issues of Hong Kong dollar bonds in 2002, other than Exchange Fund Bills and Notes, have reached HK$180 billion. As at end-2002, the outstanding Hong Kong dollar bonds, excluding Exchange Fund Bills and Notes, stood at HK$415 billion. But we know that, with your help, we can and will do better.
Indeed, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for the constructive advice you have already provided on ways to facilitate further development of the bond market.
Take for example, the SFC will shortly issue new sets of guidelines, including -
* guidelines on offer awareness and summary disclosure materials to raise investor awareness of forthcoming public offers; and
* guidelines on programme offerings using a "dual prospectus" structure to reduce the administrative burden placed on issuers of shares or debentures.
Again, my thanks to you for bringing this exercise to a successful conclusion. And there are more to come.
Looking forward, SFC will soon issue certain class exemptions for prospectuses relating to offers of debentures. As a medium-term measure, amendments to the Companies Ordinance are also being made to anchor the new practices set out in the aforesaid guidelines in legislation. Amendments will also be introduced to enable more flexible administration of the prospectus regime by the SFC; provide more certainty as regards the application of the prospectus regime; and level the playing field between offers made by local and overseas companies. We plan to release these proposed legislative amendments for consultation shortly. Our target is to introduce these amendment proposals into the Legislative Council in the second quarter of this year.
In parallel, SFC is undertaking an overall review of the existing laws and processes relating to public offerings of securities and to formulate longer term solutions designed to modernise Hong Kong's regime of financial products offering.
We are also studying various means to further promote the retail bond market through better education of the general public on bonds generally; and encouraging greater involvement of banks and brokers in promoting bond transactions.
In this context, I am delighted to learn that a revamped HKCMA website will be launched later this evening to provide a more effective channel for the general public to better understand the Hong Kong bond market. I salute this HKCMA initiative in the promotion of the Hong Kong bond market. This effort exemplifies the scope for joint government and professional organisation cooperation.
In closing, I wish you all a successful and prosperous year.
End/Thursday, February 13, 2002