Hong Kong-Listed Mainland China ETF OKd
July 02, 2012
Hong Kong’s market regulator approved a long awaited Hong Kong-listed ETF sponsored by China Asset Management that will give investors direct access to shares listed on both the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges, according to a report in the Financial Times.
The new ETF, which sources familiar with the matter told FT is likely to launch in mid-July, is part of a broader effort by Chinese officials to liberalize China’s currency, banking system and its financial markets. It’s not clear how accessible the new Hong Kong-listed will be to foreign investors, but it seems likely some foreigners will be able to own the fund through certain brokerage accounts.
While foreign investors have had some access to mainland Chinese companies, it’s been indirect via derivatives-based exposure. Many consider derivatives based exposure to be more complex and risky than investing in actual shares due to counterparty risk and collateral some banks have used to hold investors’ funds, FT said. That means the approval is breaking new ground.
Also, any investment in mainland China – the so-called A-Shares market – is subject to the Chinese government’s Qualified Foreign Institutional Investors (QFII). The fund’s sponsor, China Investment Management’s Hong Kong unit, is said to have several billion renminbi worth of RQFII quota to dedicate to the new Hong Kong-listed ETF.
In sum the China’s efforts will help Hong Kong become the platform for financial institutions around the world to conduct business in China’s currency, the renminbi, according to FT, which cited the Hong Kong Monetary Association.
Among those initiatives are the approval of ETFs listed in Shanghai and Shenzhen that would invest in Hong Kong’s market, the article said.
Chinese officials also recently approved two ETFs that will trade in mainland China and track the biggest mainland China stocks that are listed on both the Shanghai and Shenzhen exchanges.
But apart from the QFII program, there isn’t really any way for foreigners to freely access China’s equity markets.
Still, sources in the U.S. say all these cross-listing moves suggest that, over time, China is will increasingly open its investment markets to Chinese and non-Chinese investors alike.
That said, it would probably be better if U.S. investors didn’t hold their breath, as the pace is likely to be slow, ETF industry sources said.