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Hong Kong Exchange Denies Preferential Waiver for Tom.com

In response to criticism of its handling of the Tom.com IPO, the Hong Kong Stock Exchange said that it has not granted any preferential waiver on management rules to the month-old company.

According to the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong, companies who want to list on the Growth Enterprise Market (GEM) Board must have been under the same management and ownership during the two years before the listing.

Tom.com launched its Web site last month and launched its IPO last Thursday.

The Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) and the Exchange explained that the Exchange could consider waiver applications on a case by case basis.

The Exchange said it could reduce the moratorium period if the management shareholders were able to demonstrate a high level of commitment to the long-term development of the company's business.

Also, the Exchange further explained that GEM's moratorium period should be in line with the practice of other growth markets. It said even NASDAQ has no exchange rules imposing a lock up requirement.

It cited the example of Far Eastern Polychem Industries Ltd, which was the first GEM company which applied for and was granted a waiver in January.

Regarding the relaxation of staff stock option plans to the 50 percent share option limit, the Exchange and SFC said they have been jointly consulting the market on proposals for all listed companies.

The Exchange and SFC said that all proposed waivers and rule amendments have followed market consultation and detailed deliberation. They jointly declared that the Exchange has given no preferential waivers to any company.