SCMP Friday, October 6, 2000

Mix-up mars debut for MTR shares


Confusion marred the first day of trading in shares of the Mass Transit Railway Corporation when invalid certificates were accidentally distributed to some investors.
A batch withheld from distribution and reprinted because of poor quality, was mistakenly sent out to investors as proof of share ownership.
The error meant some investors received duplicate certificates for the same share allotment. The confusion kept some shareholders from trading on the opening day.
The shares soared to a high of $13 on their debut but slid in the afternoon trading session to close at $11.60, still 30.63 per cent higher than the $8.88 a share that 610,000 small investors paid in the $9.08 billion offering.
Central Registration Hong Kong, responsible for issuing the share certificates, was ready to accept blame for the mix-up, sources close to the MTRC and the Government said.
"The Government will wait until Central Registration gives us a satisfactory response over this case before we decide what step to take next," a government spokesman said.
Yesterday, brokers called for MTRC shares to be suspended from trading until the matter was cleared up.
A Securities and Futures Commission spokesman told investors to hold on to the duplicate certificates and warned them against trying to sell them.
The government spokesman said only a few invalid share certificates had been distributed but some brokers estimated that up to five per cent of all the MTRC certificates could be invalid.