Red chips would flock international board

Updated: 2011-09-21 07:48

By Gao Changxin (China Daily)

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Foreign firms showing only guarded interest, Shanghai bourse official says

SHANGHAI - Shanghai's long-awaited international board will be a major platform for the return of red chips, rather than genuine foreign companies, a senior official with the Shanghai Stock Exchange said on Tuesday.

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The remark made by Chao Kejian, director of the exchange's offering and listing department, played down the widespread anticipation that the board would be a hot market for foreign companies to issue yuan-denominated shares.

Speaking at a forum in Shanghai, Chao said that so far, foreign companies' attitude toward a listing has been "cautious" and that there is no timetable for the introduction of the board.

The manner of listing has been pinned down to be through initial public offerings and not depositary receipts, as has been speculated. A depositary receipt is a certificate issued by a bank representing equity in foreign companies, which is traded on stock exchanges within the issuing country.

"A listing by foreign companies will be mainly aimed at promoting their brands on the Chinese mainland, not for raising money. They have other channels for funding, and many for them don't want to dilute their existing shares," Chao said.

"Instead, the board will be a strong platform for red chips, which are eager to return."

Red chips are Chinese companies incorporated outside the Chinese mainland. They are not allowed to list on the A-share market, which is open only to locally incorporated companies, though their main businesses are on the mainland.

Chao said there are more than 400 red chips, about 100 of them listed in Hong Kong.

"It's reasonable for the companies to list where their businesses are and for consumers to be able to invest in companies that they are buying products from," said Chao.

Chao said Hong Kong-listed China Mobile Communications Corp, which he describes as a "cash cow", is likely to be among the first batch of candidates for the board.

Foreign companies' guarded interest in the board, analysts say, is partly triggered by Hong Kong's emergence as a major offshore yuan market amid increasing demand for yuan-denominated trade settlement.

As of the end of June, Kong Hong's yuan deposits had reached 550 billion yuan ($86 billion), up 75 percent from the end of 2010, according to data from the Hong Kong Monetary Authority.

The burgeoning deposits combined with a lack of investment channels to allow foreign companies to raise money from bond issuance in Hong Kong at a low cost, are diminishing their desire for a listing on the international board.

As of late August, 112 billion yuan worth of yuan-denominated bonds, or dim sum bonds, had been issued, according to Thomson Reuters data, nearly three times the amount issued in the whole of 2010.

Many big foreign companies are among the issuers, including the World Bank, Volkswagen AG, McDonald's Corp and Caterpillar Inc.

China Daily

(China Daily 09/21/2011 page13)