The Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) is looking forward to a new era in Hong Kong's financial markets with the long-awaited Securities and Futures Ordinance (SFO) due to come into effect on April 1 2003.
The SFO, which consolidates, modernizes and replaces 10 existence ordinances, aims to provide greater protection to investors and more transparent market disclosure.
In order to cope with the rapid pace of change in Hong Kong's financial markets, the SFO's framework allows details to be included in subsidiary legislation that can be amended more efficiently to keep pace with market developments. Forty items of subsidiary legislation - most of which have gone out for public consultation - have been considered in the LegCo Subcommittee and have been published in the Gazette.
As mentioned above, the new SFO plays an important role in enhancing market transparency. Part XV of the SFO requires the disclosure of interests in securities by persons who are interested in 5% or more of the relevant share capital of a listed corporation and by the directors and chief executives of listed corporations.
The SFC recently published trial versions of the forms that the SFC proposes to prescribe for use by persons giving notice under Part XV of the SFO. For ease of compliance by the market participants in this respect, the forms can either be downloaded in pdf format for manual completion or alternatively be downloaded in Microsoft Excel format and then completed electronically. Meanwhile, a new system for electronic filing of the forms with the stock exchange is being developed. Details of the new e-filing system will be announced soon.