Friday, July 24, 2009

The Standard:Protests ease, investors come to terms with offer

24 July 2009

Regular investors started coming to terms with the Lehman minibond compensation offer yesterday, with only a handful of elderly investors protesting outside the Securities and Futures Commission offices.

Some of those protesting said they were inclined to accept the offer, although they held out a sliver of hope that they would get more.

``I have no money to use. My wife and I only have this pension, I can only accept the 60 percent compensation and use it,'' said an investor surnamed Chan.

Another investor said he prefers to reinvest the settlement amount to make more money. ``It's better to get back some money to invest in stocks. As the entanglement goes, chances are you won't be able to get it back some five years later,'' he said. ``Making up for the loss from stocks now is just the same.''

Consumer Council chairman Anthony Cheung Bing-leung advised investors to evaluate their individual situations before deciding whether or not to accept the buyback proposals by the regulators and banks. ``If the investors are willing to accept it, we will be pleased. But we also respect whatever decisions the investors make in the end,'' Cheung said. The council has received about 12,000 complaints from investors so far, including about 50 cases applying to the legal fund.

Customers of DBS Bank (Hong Kong), who bought Constellation credit-linked notes linked to Lehman, are still fighting for more compensation from the bank. They are not covered under the repurchase scheme as what they bought was not minibonds.

Bank shares surged yesterday as investors were relieved that the uncertainty on the minibond compensation plan was removed. Bank of East Asia (0023) jumped 3.3 percent to HK$25.10, while Bank of China (Hong Kong) (2388) rose 2.5 percent to HK$15.54.

Bank of Communications (3328) said yesterday it would have to pay a total of HK$204.54 million in investor compensation. It said the minibond repurchases will have ``minimal impact'' on financial results.

Dah Sing Banking Group (2356) said it would need to pay up to HK$444 million in compensation, plus HK$20 million in ``top-up payments'' and HK$22 million in legal-fund contributions.

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