Pre-emptive rights (17.39-17.42D)
Except in the circumstances mentioned in rule 17.41, the directors of an issuer (other than a PRC issuer, to which the provisions of rule 25.23 apply) shall obtain the consent of shareholders in general meeting prior to allotting, issuing or granting:—(1) shares;(2) securities convertible into shares; or(3) options, warrants or similar rights to subscribe for any shares or such convertible securities.
Note: Importance is attached to the principle that a shareholder should be able to protect his proportion of the total equity by having the opportunity to subscribe for any new issue of equity securities. Accordingly, unless shareholders otherwise permit, all issues of equity securities by the issuer must be offered to the existing shareholders (and, where appropriate, to holders of other equity securities of the issuer entitled to be offered them) pro rata to their existing holdings, and only to the extent that the securities offered are not taken up by such persons may they be allotted or issued to other persons or otherwise than pro rata to their existing holdings. This principle may be waived by the shareholders themselves on a general basis, but only within the limits of rules 17.41 and 17.42.
Notwithstanding rule 17.41(2), the directors of the issuer (other than a PRC issuer, to which the provisions of rule 25.23 apply) shall obtain the consent of the shareholders in general meeting prior to allotting any voting shares if such allotment would effectively alter the control of the issuer.
No such consent as is referred to in rule 17.39 shall be required:—(1) for the allotment, issue or grant of such securities pursuant to an offer made to the shareholders of the issuer which excludes for that purpose any shareholder that is resident in a place outside Hong Kong provided the directors of the issuer consider such exclusion to be necessary or expedient on account either of the legal restrictions under the laws of the relevant place or the requirements of the relevant regulatory body or stock exchange in that place and, where appropriate, to holders of other equity securities of the issuer entitled to be offered them, pro rata (apart from fractional entitlements) to their existing holdings but subject to rule 10.29; or
Notes:1 The issuer must make enquiry regarding the legal restrictions under the laws of the relevant place and the requirements of the relevant regulatory body or stock exchange and may only exclude such overseas shareholders on the basis that, having made such enquiry, it would be necessary or expedient to do so.2 If any shareholders that are resident outside Hong Kong are excluded from an offer of securities pursuant to rule 17.41(1), the issuer shall include an explanation for the exclusion in the relevant circular or document containing the offer of securities. Issuers shall ensure that the circular or offer document is delivered to such shareholders for their information subject to compliance with the relevant local laws, regulations and requirements.(2) if, but only to the extent that, the existing shareholders of the issuer have by ordinary resolution in general meeting given a general mandate to the directors of the issuer, either unconditionally or subject to such terms and conditions as may be specified in the resolution, to allot or issue such securities or to grant any offers, agreements or options which would or might require securities to be issued, allotted or disposed of, whether during the continuance of such mandate or thereafter, subject to a restriction that the aggregate number of securities allotted or agreed to be allotted must not exceed the aggregate of (i) 20% of the number of issued shares of the issuer as at the date of the resolution granting the general mandate (or in the case of a scheme of arrangement involving an introduction in the circumstances set out in rule 10.18(3), 20% of the number of issued shares of the issuer following implementation of the scheme) and (ii) the number of such securities repurchased by the issuer itself since the granting of the general mandate (up to a maximum number equivalent to 10% of the number of issued shares the issuer as at the date of the resolution granting the repurchase mandate), provided that the existing shareholders of the issuer have by a separate ordinary resolution in general meeting given a general mandate to the directors of the issuer to add such repurchased securities to the 20% general mandate.
1. Other than where independent shareholders' approval has been obtained, an issue of securities to a connected person pursuant to a general mandate given under rule 17.41(2) is only permitted in the circumstances set out in rule 20.90.
2. If the issuer conducts a share consolidation or subdivision after the issue mandate has been approved in general meeting, the maximum number of securities that may be issued under the mandate as a percentage of the total number of issued shares at the date immediately before and after such consolidation or subdivision shall be the same.
3. The exemption for the shareholders' approval requirement under rule 17.41(1) does not apply to the allotment, issue or grant of securities under an open offer.
A general mandate given under rule 17.41(2) shall only continue in force until:—(1) the conclusion of the first annual general meeting of the issuer following the passing of the resolution at which time it shall lapse unless, by ordinary resolution passed at that meeting, the mandate is renewed, either unconditionally or subject to conditions; or(2) revoked or varied by ordinary resolution of the shareholders in general meeting, whichever occurs first.
Where an issuer has obtained a general mandate from its shareholders pursuant to rule 17.41(2), any refreshments of the general mandate before the next annual general meeting shall be subject to the following provisions:(1) any controlling shareholders and their associates or, where there are no controlling shareholders, directors (excluding independent non-executive directors) and the chief executive of the issuer and their respective associates shall abstain from voting in favour;(2) the Exchange reserves the right to require the following parties to abstain from voting in favour of the relevant resolution at the general meeting:(a) any parties who were controlling shareholders of the issuer at the time the decision to seek a refreshment of the mandate was made or approved by the board, and their associates; or(b) where there were no such controlling shareholders, directors (excluding independent non-executive directors) and the chief executive of the issuer at the time the decision to seek a refreshment of the mandate was made or approved by the board, and their respective associates;(3) the issuer must comply with requirements set out in rules 17.47(6) and 17.47(7) and rules 17.47A, 17.47B and 17.47C;(4) the relevant circular to shareholders must contain information relating to the issuer's history of refreshments of mandate since the last annual general meeting, the amount of proceeds raised from the utilisation of such mandate, the use of such proceeds, the intended use of any amount not yet utilised and how the issuer has dealt with such amount. The circular must also contain information required under rule 2.28; and(5) where the issuer offers or issues securities to its shareholders pro rata to their existing holdings (including where overseas shareholders are excluded for legal or regulatory reasons), it will not be necessary for the issuer to comply with rules 17.42A(1), (2) or (3) in order for it to refresh its general mandate immediately thereafter such that the amount in percentage terms of the unused part of the general mandate upon refreshment is the same as the unused part of the general mandate immediately before the issue of securities. In such cases, it need only obtain approval from its shareholders and comply with rule 17.42A(4).
In the case of a placing or open offer of securities for cash consideration, an issuer may not issue any securities pursuant to a general mandate given under rule 17.41(2) if the relevant price represents a discount of 20% or more to the benchmarked price of the securities, such benchmarked price being the higher of:
(1) the closing price on the date of the relevant placing agreement or other agreement involving the proposed issue of securities under the general mandate; and
(2) the average closing price in the 5 trading days immediately prior to the earlier of:
(a) the date of announcement of the placing or the proposed transaction or arrangement involving the proposed issue of securities under the general mandate;
(b) the date of the placing agreement or other agreement involving the proposed issue of securities under the general mandate; and
(c) the date on which the placing or subscription price is fixed,
unless the issuer can demonstrate that it is in a serious financial position and that the only way it can be saved is by an urgent rescue operation which involves the issue of new securities at a price representing a discount of 20% or more to the benchmarked price of the securities or that there are other exceptional circumstances. The issuer shall provide the Exchange with detailed information on the allottees to be issued with securities under the general mandate.
The issuer may not issue securities convertible into new shares of the issuer for cash consideration pursuant to a general mandate given under rule 17.41(2), unless the initial conversion price is not lower than the benchmarked price (as defined in rule 17.42B) of the shares at the time of the placing.
The issuer may not issue warrants, options or similar rights to subscribe for (a) any new shares of the issuer or (b) any securities convertible into new shares of the issuer, for cash consideration pursuant to a general mandate given under rule 17.41(2).