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China: Update on Shanghai FTZ Financial Reform

In year 2014 we expect to see numerous new policy and regulation updates on the financial reform of Shanghai FTZ. Where are we today?

Shanghai local government and Chinese central government will endeavor to expand the market functions, deepen the opening of local financial markets to foreign investors, increase the number of financial institutions in the FTZ, encourage the financial business innovation and make Shanghai more of an international financial center.

Many reform details are under consideration or have already been executed in 2014, such as setting up crude oil futures, international gold trading, financial asset trading, syndicated loan trading platforms and building nationwide trust registry service institutions. Besides, rules regarding foreign and FTZ-registered firms’ parent companies RMB bonds issuance are on the way. Moreover, Shanghai FTZ regulators will also consider introduction of free trade account management by allowing financial institutions to set up FTA (Free Trade Account) accounting units segregated for residents and non-residents. Furthermore, Shanghai FTZ regulators encourage direct investment abroad from local firms and private equity funds. The main contents of Shanghai FTZ’s reform could be described as a ‘1+4’ policy, where ‘1’ stands for risk control segregate account system; ‘4’ stands for interest rate liberalization, foreign exchange liberalization, RMB cross-border utilization and RMB capital account opening.

FX reform and FTA accounts

PBOC announced that, starting on March 17, 2014, the interbank RMB/USD spot price’s fluctuation spread increased from 1% to 2%. For commercial banks, the fluctuation range of RMB/USD spot price offering to the clients could be expanded from 2% to 3% from the mid-price calculated by Chinese interbank FX market. This is the third time for PBOC to expand the fluctuation range. Analysts say the expansion in RMB/USD spot fluctuation range is a clear signal that RMB will be internationalized in the near future and Shanghai FTZ is thought to be a test-bed for that. The most prominent aspect of Shanghai FTZ FX reform is the FTA (Free Trade Account). FTA is essentially a free trade bank account for Shanghai FTZ registered firms, very similar to an offshore bank account, which enables free capital flow inside the FTZ. FTA system allows both foreigners and local residents to get their money in and out through FTZ. Overall, there are mainly 3 types of FTA accounts. Local firms in the FTZ could open FTA accounts; individuals in the FTZ could open FTA accounts; foreign firms in the FTZ could open FTN accounts. As regulators are treading conservatively with hot money inflows and money laundering risks in mind, there is still no detailed timeline. However, we believe the FTA mechanism will be released in 2014 or 2015 as a momentous milestone in the financial history of China.

Interest rate reform

In March, 2014, a PBOC official claimed that the sequence of Shanghai FTZ interest rate reform will be ‘liberalize interest rates for foreign currencies prior to RMB interest rates; free the loan rates prior the deposit rates’.
There were actions towards interest rate reform in Shanghai FTZ from the regulators. PBOC announced that from March 1st, 2014, the deposit rate of foreign currencies below the amount of USD3 million would be liberalized, which actually removed the ceiling for foreign currencies’ deposit rate. This is thought to be an important step on the road to fully liberalized interest rate reform. The next step could be liberalization of the deposit rates of the local currency, which may not only be applicable in Shanghai FTZ, but also the rest of China.

Cross-border RMB utilization

On Feb 21, 2014, PBOC released the detailed regulation on expanding the usage of RMB overseas, which simplified the process of RMB overseas usage under current and direct investment account. However, overseas RMB financial scale and usage range will still be restricted, as well as cross-border e-commerce transactions and RMB trading services.
Six banks constitute the first batch of firms applied for the cross-border RMB settlement licenses. ICBC and Bank of China helped their clients within the zone to make an overseas RMB loan; Bank of Shanghai, HSBC and Citi Bank launched cross-border RMB current account centralized collection and payment services; Bank of Communications signed the first overseas RMB borrowing service for the non-bank financial institutions.

Capital account liberalization (to be announced)

In the future, the capital account might be opened for local and foreign investors. As Chinese reformers are relatively prudent and conservative, the liberalization process of capital accounts have been advancing relatively slowly so far. One important step in the process will be a gradual opening of commercial futures market to foreign institutional investors.

2014 version of ‘negative list’ (possibly to be released in the 1st half of 2014)

In the 1st half of 2014, a new version of ‘negative list’ will be released to update the 2013 version. Although it is not clear what items this version may include, there are two aspects which are certain. One aspect is that the contents included in the negative item list will be shortened, which implies that the restrictions on types of companies to register in the zone will be reduced. The other aspect is that Shanghai FTZ might cooperate with Hong Kong to introduce advanced practices from the city.

In-depth report on Shanghai FTZ are available here.

Source: Kapronasia, 05.06.2014

For more news and insights into Chinas Financial markets please visit

Filed under: China, News, Risk Management, , , , , ,

Option the Dragon: Stock Options set for launch in China

On August 6, 2013, Chinese securities companies received ‘the notice of preparing the initiating stock options full simulating trading works’ sent by the Shanghai Stock Exchange. This information implies that SHSE is already fully prepared for the launching of stock options. Although there is no clear timetable for launching the stock options, it is likely that they will appear in Chinese capital markets in 2013 or 2014.

Exchange traded stock options are new to Chinese capital markets and these derivatives provide a number of benefits. For one, both long and short-term trading are accessible and, similar to other derivatives such as futures, t+0 is allowed. Another benefit, which is an advantage over futures, is that leverage is provided but buyers can only lose the amount that they paid for the option. Options traders can also execute more complicated strategies through the combination of buying and selling call and put options, including straddles and spreads. Moreover, stock options are perfect hedging tools for individual stocks. Currently, Chinese stock index futures can only hedge the risks of the CSI 300 index and can not directly hedge non-systematic risks from individual stock options. And, despite providing leverage, security companies charge high transaction fees and interest rates for customers interested in selling short and buying long. Furthermore, the introduction of stock options comes with a high minimum threshold, which may largely change the structure of investors in the stock market by increasing the proportion of institutional investors. Thus the introduction of stock options may largely change the landscape of Chinese stock markets and may stimulate trading volumes.

However, there are also potential problems and doubts from the public that my come with the introduction of Chinese stock options. One issue regards the minimum threshold for investors of stock options. Some market analysts estimate that this threshold could be as high as one million yuan, which is higher than thresholds for index futures and securities lending services from securities companies. Currently, only 1% of accounts in the stock market can meet this requirement. Critics argue that stock options may serve as a tool to short the market by institutional investors and rich individuals, who may be in a disadvantaged position. But there are also analysts stating that the threshold may be lower, which would give normal individual investors a better opportunity to participate. The minimum threshold will depend on the final decision from CSRC.

Another problem has to do with the underlying stock that stock options are based upon. Currently, it seems as though only very large blue chip listed companies can enjoy stock options, so not all stocks can be optioned. Because large-cap stocks fluctuate less dramatically than small-cap and medium-cap stocks, the meaning of stock options may not be as transparent as in the fully opened western markets. But for institutional investors like mutual funds, as large-cap stocks take larger proportions of their shares, stock options may be an ideal hedging tool for stabilizing the performance of their portfolios. As current stock markets have adopted t+0 and t+1 trading, short-term day trade for hedging is not feasible. Thus traders may either choose longer-term hedging strategies or speculate through high-frequency intra-day trading.

Furthermore, large amounts of speculation in stock options may lead to dramatic fluctuations in stock prices. Similar to trades within A-share markets, the cost of short-selling is much higher than longing the stocks. So under the current unbalanced system, both hedgers and speculators may choose short in the stock options and the performance of A-share markets in the future may weaken. This has already been proven from the stock index future’s impact on A-share stock markets.

In conclusion, despite the risks, the launching of stock options is important for the development of Chinese capital markets.

Source: KapronAsia, 20.08.2013

Filed under: Asia, China, Exchanges, News, Risk Management, , , , , , , ,

Greater China Exchanges: Hong Kong, Shanghai and Shenzhen Stock Exchanges set up joint venture

Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEx), Shanghai Stock Exchange (SHSE) and Shenzhen Stock Exchange (SZSE) signed an agreement today (Thursday) to establish a joint venture (JV) in Hong Kong with an aim to develop financial products and related services.  The three exchanges hope this new venture will help promote the development of China’s capital markets, enhance the competitiveness of these markets and promote the internationalisation of the three bourses.

 The principal business of the JV will include, but not be limited to, the development and franchising of index-linked and other equity derivatives products; the compilation of cross-border indices based on products traded on the three markets; and the development of industry classification for listed companies, information standards and information products.  They will also include market promotion, customer services, technical services and infrastructure development.

Initially, the JV will develop a series of cross-border indices on which a family of index products will be introduced.  This series of indices will include a benchmark cross-border index comprising large Mainland enterprises listed on HKEx’s wholly-owned subsidiary.  The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited, SHSE and SZSE, and two indices based on this cross-border index – an index comprising A-share constituents and an index comprising Hong Kong market constituents.  The index products will include equity index futures and options based on these indices and they will be traded on HKEx’s derivatives market.

The JV’s nine-member board will be comprised of three directors nominated by each of the exchanges.  SHZE and SZSE will each nominate a Joint Chairman from their representatives on the board.  HKEx will nominate the Chief Executive from its designated directors.

The JV will have an initial paid-up capital of $300 million, with HKEx, SHSE and SZSE each contributing $100 million.  The three exchanges will have equal shareholding interest in the JV.  The exchanges aim to establish the JV within three months from the execution of the agreement.

“Building on the many well-established ties among the three exchanges, the new venture will provide a new platform for our cooperation and we hope that it will contribute to the further development of Hong Kong and the Mainland’s capital markets,” said HKEx Chief Executive Charles Li.

“As China continues to open up and the RMB gradually internationalises, it is inevitable we will have to compete in the international capital market.  Our efforts to further cooperation with HKEx and develop products for the offshore market will bring about a win-win situation for both Hong Kong and the Mainland,” said SHSE President Zhang Yujun.

“The establishment of the JV will help increase foreign investors’ exposure to the Mainland market via Hong Kong.  In addition, the JV can help raise the Mainland capital market’s influence in offshore markets and provide opportunities to explore opening up measures,” said SZSE President and CEO Song Liping.

Source: Mondovisone, 28.06.2012

Filed under: Asia, China, Exchanges, Hong Kong, , , , , , , , , , ,

China Insight: QDII updates, Disparated Financial Standards and new Market Reforms – KapronAsia

Overview of the QDII Program in China

The QDII (Qualified Domestic Institutional Investor) program was first launched in 2004 initially for insurance companies to invest their foreign exchange funds in the Chinese companies traded in overseas markets, with PingAn insurance company being the first institutional investor to receive a QDII quota of US$8.89 billion. Since then, the program has expanded and now allows institutional investors, including commercial banks, security companies, fund companies, insurance companies and trust funds to raise funds in mainland China and invest in offshore capital markets under the control of China’s foreign exchange regulator.

China’s Disparate Financial Standards

China’s financial standardization lags behind the relatively rapid development of the financial industry globally and has yet to meet the demands of technology innovation and business expansion. This can slow the pace of technology advancement as competing standards add layers of complexity and make it more difficult to come up with straightforward technology solutions to clients’ problems. The PBOC has realized that financial standardization does and will continue to play a pivotal role in financial informationization and regards standardization work as an important strategic measure to promote China’s financial industry.

Further Reform of China’s Stock Markets in 2012
After being stuck in a bear market for the past few years, China’s stock market hasn’t kept up with the country that has become the world’s second largest economy following the U.S.. Facing this bear stock market, Guo Shuqing, the new chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), seems confident in China’s stock market, saying that the blue chips in China’s stock market are of real value, although overhaul and reform are necessary now to move the market forward. He has raised several new ideas that may contribute to this needed reform.

Source: KapronAsia, 10.04.2012

Filed under: China, Exchanges, Standards, , , , , , , , , ,

Shanghai Stock Exchange takes on HFT speculators, amongst other global exchanges

The Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSE) has become the latest bourse to signal a crackdown on the huge number of messages high-frequency traders generate.

Having carried out research into trader speculation and its effect on the market, the Chinese exchange operator has vowed to take on the issue with “both technique and system”.The SSE will impose trading limits on accounts “with such abnormal trading behaviors as making orders in a large sum or at high prices, or conducting frequent false orders and withdrawals”.Firms that continue to break the new rules will be designated unqualified investors, facing trading restrictions for several days and referral to the China Securities Regulatory Commission.

Yesterday US operators Nasdaq OMX and Direct Edge outlined plans to fine high-frequency traders for carrying out too many cancelled orders, following a path already taken in Europe by Deutsche Börse and Borsa Italiana.

The Shanghai bourse and its rival Shenzhen Stock Exchange have also both moved to curb excessive speculation and volatility in shares in newly listed companies. New rules mean there will be a 30 minute suspension on shares that rise or fall by 10% from their opening prices on their first day of trading.

Filed under: Asia, China, Exchanges, Risk Management, , , , , , , , ,

Chinese Markets STEP Forward with China FIX

Dr. Bai Shuo of the Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSE) explains the importance of the STEP Protocol and its development in China.

Dr. Bai Shuo, Shanghai Stock ExchangeHow did the STEP Protocol begin and which organisations originally developed it?

Back in 2003, at the same time when the SSE began to prepare the Next Generation Trading System (NGTS) project, which would later go live on Nov 23, 2009, the SSE decided to introduce a message-based protocol between the exchange and brokers, which is widely accepted to be FIX. The pioneering work was encouraged by the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC).

Under the framework of national standardization, this protocol became one of the eight standards in the securities industry. The WG01 group was responsible for the drafting of the protocol under the direction of the CSRC. The membership of the WG01 group includes: SSE, Shenzhen Stock Exchange (SZSE), Shanghai Futures Exchange (SHFE), Guoxin Security Co. and some other securities companies. The protocol, which is informally called Chinese FIX, or CFIX, is named STEP (Securities Trading Exchange Protocol), as it is regarded as the initial ‘step’ towards a first-class stock market. STEP 1.0 was written in 2004 and issued in 2005. STEP was revised as version 1.1 in 2006.

How does STEP fit into China’s overall usage of standards in the financial world?

While FIX is a global standard in the securities industry, STEP is more suitable for the Chinese market, since STEP introduced many native business and local definitions. The CSRC is responsible for the STEP standard. The SSE has agreed to use STEP and is eager to promote STEP, so as to encourage brokers to follow STEP. In China, investor accounts that should be supervised are designed to be contained in Parties component block. Tags in range 8500 to 8540 are allocated for Chinese market usage, such as market data delivery and business for funds, warrants and voting. Quite a few tags are enhanced for local businesses, such as tag 40 (OrdType), tag 103 (OrdRejReason), tag 269 (MDEntryType), tag 326 (SecurityTradingStatus).

What is the scope of STEP’s usage? What parts of the trading cycle was it intended to cover and what asset classes is it used for?

STEP covers the pre-trade and trade parts of trading cycle, as well as some specific registering instructions. STEP is used for stocks, funds, bonds, warrants, ETFs, and lots of featured non-trading businesses, such as IPOs, right issuances, fund creation and redemptions, warrant executions, bond deposit and withdrawals, voting, etc.

Who were the early adopters of STEP? Who currently uses STEP and for what?

The SSE uses STEP for level2 market data service. Information vendors have taken STEP for level2 service in the meantime. Creative businesses like this are suitable to take the new protocol standard in order to have the ability to easily maintain and extend, without a burden to support a legacy interface.

What is the next stage in the development of STEP? Where is adoption of STEP going to grow most significantly in the near future? Are there new goals or applications for STEP?

STEP is under revision as many new businesses were introduced during the last five years. STEP is considered easier to be adopted in market data and other creative businesses. Also, STEP over FAST will be used for SSE level 1 market data delivery. Block trading, quote repo, agreed repo and margin financing on the Alternative Trading Platform (ATP) of the SSE will take STEP as the format for business records. Traditional trading business will gradually be enhanced to support STEP in near future as we get more confidence through the experience on creative business.

Source: FIXGlobalTrading, 15.09.2011
Free Magazin Subscription at

Filed under: Asia, China, Exchanges, FIX Connectivity, Market Data, Trading Technology, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

China & Brazil: Shanghai Stock Exchange and BMF&BOVESPA launch all-round cooperation

The 2nd China-Brazil Capital Markets Forum, jointly sponsored by the Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSE) and BM&F BOVESPA, was held on 27 October in Shanghai. SSE President Zhang Yujun said that the SSE would cement all-round cooperation in the capital markets of both sides with BM&F BOVESPA.

Marcos Caramuru, Ambassador of the Consulate General of Brazil in Shanghai, and Edemir Pinto, CEO of BM&F BOVESPA attended the forum presided over by Zhou Qinye, SSE Chief Accountant.

This February, Zhang Yujun, SSE Vice President Xu Ming and their entourage participated in the 1st China-Brazil Capital Markets Forum held in Brazil and signed a memorandum on closer cooperation with BM&F BOVESPA. Both sides fixed upon negotiation to hold the 2nd China-Brazil Capital Markets Forum in China in late October, 2011.

At the forum held in Shanghai, both sides compared notes on the intensification of cooperation and exchanges in China-Brazil Capital Markets and the in-depth development of the exchanges in the two countries under the new backdrop. Besides, special sub-forums were held to respectively discuss the opportunities for and internationalization of enterprises in emerging markets, the challenges and opportunities of emerging markets for investment in multinational capital markets and the practices and experience in the investor education and protection.

According to the cooperation memorandum signed previously, both sides reached an intent of cooperating in information, exchange, product development, trading platform construction, mutual personnel dispatch. Besides, both sides had common views on the periodical visit mechanism of senior managers as well as the exchanges in bond, fund, information, technology, investor education, academic science and personnel dispatch.

Zhang Yujun said at the forum that with the rapid growth of Chinese economy in recent years, the two countries had seen a good trend of economic cooperation. In the South America, China had become the biggest source of capital flowed as FDI into Brazil. All this would require the domestic financial industry, especially all the participants in the capital market, to provide better financial services and supporting services for further opening-up of the Chinese economy. The cooperation between the SSE and BM&F BOVESPA should be cemented in response to the new trends of the economic growth and capital market development in the two countries.

Finally, Zhang said that after the 1st China-Brazil Capital Markets Forum, more and more exchanges in the domestic capital market strengthened the cooperation with all the participants in the Brazilian capital market. For instance, a participant in the Brazilian capital market directly invested in the IPO of CITIC Securities in Hongkong. In the future, more domestic securities companies and fund management companies will provide financial services for Chinese enterprises’ investment in foreign capital markets.

Source: MondoVision, 31.10.2011

Filed under: Brazil, China, Data Management, Exchanges, News, Trading Technology, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

China: Shanghai Stock Exchange: SSE 380 Style Indices, SSE Health Care Index, SSE Agriculture Index to be launched

To further enhance the SSE and CSI index family as well as to provide new analysis tool and underlying instrument for investors, SSE 380 Style Indices 、SSE Health Care Theme Index and SSE Agriculture Theme Index and are to be launched on October 18th,2011 by SSE and CSI.

See the SSE 380 Style Indices Methodology

Source; Mondo-visione, 20.09.2011

Filed under: China, Exchanges, News, , , , , , ,

China – Brazil: Shanghai Stock Exchange, BM&FBOVESPA ink Cooperation

The Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSE) officially signed the Memorandum of Understanding on closer cooperation with BM&FBOVESPA SA in Sao Paulo, Brazil on February 21 (Beijing Time).

SSE President Zhang Yujun and CEO Edemir Pinto of BM&FBOVESPA signed the MoU on behalf of their respective bourses.

Zhang said at the signing ceremony that the signing of the MoU on closer cooperation with BM&FBOVESPA by the SSE, which has always cherished communication and cooperation with exchanges all over the world and international exchange organizations, marked the establishment of long-standing and stable partnership between the two sides. It is learnt that the MoU covers cooperation in developing bonds products and trading facilities, information exchange, mechanism of high-level visits, regular exchange of personnel, regular joint research and special seminars on topics

Source: MondoVision, 23.02.2011

Filed under: Asia, BM&FBOVESPA, Brazil, China, Exchanges, Latin America, , , , , , , ,

China may abolish QFII within five years, says Harvest

It’s likely to be scrapped to make way for a ‘free-market investing scheme’ en route to capital controls being fully lifted in the next decade, says Harvest Global Investment’s Mao Shuguang.

There have been a lot of renminbi-market developments in the last two years, particularly the past three months, noted Eric Chow, deputy head of business development at HSBC, this week.

But asset managers – speaking at the ‘RMB Rising’ conference run by AsianInvestor and FinanceAsia in Hong Kong this week – are still waiting for further clarification on issues such as RMB usage and conversion.

“Since July we’ve been seeking info about conversion limitations, what RMB funds can be used for,” said Chow. “At the moment, our choices are quite limited. So in the short term the situation is quite challenging.”

As for the kind of products fund managers are likely to launch, mainland firm Harvest Fund Management is waiting for the regulator to publish further details on how RMB usage and repatriation will work.

Mao Shuguang, head of product management at Harvest Global Investments (the Beijing based fund-management company’s Hong Kong branch), notes the huge interest in accessing the RMB market.

The firm’s focus will be on retail funds, he adds, and demand has been high for expected quotas to invest in A-shares via RMB-denominated ‘mini-QFII’. Mao cites an increase of Rmb30 billion in renminbi deposits in August, as reported by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority.

The government is getting more serious about the issue, he adds, citing for instance that the People’s Bank of China now has a department focused on the internationalisation of the renminbi.

“But it can’t be done in a day,” he says. “Capital controls need to be freed up so that money can flow into and out of China.”

One major development en route to greater relaxation of capital and investment controls is that the qualified foreign institutional investor regime is likely to be replaced by a “free-market investing scheme”, says Mao. In principal, it will allow the free flow of inbound investments, but there will be restrictions.

It will be probably three-to-five years before the QFII regime switches to the new set-up, suggests Mao, although investment restrictions will continue to ease before then.

Meanwhile, “at some point we can expect full free flow of capital”, he says, but not for 10 years or so – and some say it will take as long as 20 or 30 years.

Asked how he thought things would pan out in the shorter term, Mao turned his attention specifically to the mini-QFII regime, the rules of which have yet to be published. The industry had expected these to come this year, but now the consensus is for spring 2011.

Mao questioned the term ‘mini-QFII’, suggesting a better title would be ‘QOCII’ – the qualified overseas China institutional investor scheme – because under the rules, overseas institutional investors will be able to facilitate investments of offshore RMB deposits back into mainland capital markets.

Source: Asian Investor, 28.10.2010

Filed under: Banking, China, News, Services, Trading Technology, , , , , , , , ,

Asia E-Trading: Electronic Trading in China – Webinar September 7th

Asia E Trading presents the free  1 hour web-seminar : Electronic Trading in China

  • Overview of the Electronic Trading industry
  • Buy-side Algorithmic Trading
  • CSI300 Index future
  • Latest news on QFII and QDII
  • High Frequency Trading and Colocation
  • Update: Shanghai and Shenzhen Exchange

Speakers are:

Lionel Sancenot – Sungard- MD NE Asia & Greater China

Bill LiuQing Ma Investments -Portfolio Manager

Zennon Kapron – KapronAsia- Principal


Date: 07. September 2010

TIME: 5pm Hong Kong, 10am London, 5am New York

The seminar will be recorded and available on demand

Filed under: China, Exchanges, FIX Connectivity, Trading Technology, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

China’s banking sector Serious Problem with Bad Loans

Professor Pettis at Peking University explains that“in China, even if you believe that all the NPLs currently in the banking system have been correctly identified (a claim which few Chinese bankers believe), no one doubts we are about to see a surge in NPLs thanks to the out-of-control lending expansion of the past two years.  But things are even worse than the nominal numbers imply.  As I discussed in my April 6 entry, when we are trying to estimate the cost of a banking crisis we need to think about more than simply the ability of borrowers to meet current obligations.

This is because, as in the case of the Japanese government obligations, when borrowers are able to benefit from artificially low interest rates, the effect is of hidden debt forgiveness which must be paid for by the net lenders, who are, as in the case of Japan, the beleaguered households.  In other words, if you want to know how much real bad debt there is out there that must be cleaned up, you need to calculate what share of the loans would go bad if interest rates were raised by at least 300-400 basis points, the minimum needed to bring Chinese interest rates in line with an appropriate rate.  This suggests that the Chinese banks, if obligations were correctly counted, might have much larger amounts of bad debt than any of us realize, and this needs directly or indirectly to be cleaned up.”

Here are some recent reports from financial press sources regarding the health China’s banking sector:

-”SHANGHAI -(Dow Jones)- The non-performing loan ratio in China’s banking industry declined to 1.58% by the end of 2009, 0.84 percentage point lower than the figure at the beginning of 2009, China’s banking regulator said Saturday.”(1)

-”BEIJING: Chinese financial institutions’ non-performing loans (NPL) ratio edged down 0.1 percentage points to 1.48 percent in January, the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) said Friday.”(2)

-”BEIJING, Apr 14, 2010 (SinoCast Daily Business Beat via COMTEX) — Non-performing loan (NPL) ratio of China Development Bank, a policy bank, had reached 0.85% by the end of March”(3)

I don’t believe those reported percentages are accurate.

For context, here is an analysis of China’s non performing loan issue from 2002:

“Standard and Poor’s (S&P), which rates China as investment grade, said on Thursday it would take Chinese banks 10 to 20 years to cut average non-performing loans (NPLs) ratio to a manageable five per cent.

It estimates the Chinese banking sector’s average NPL ratio is atleast 50 per cent, higher than the 30 per cent estimate of China’s central bank governor Dai Xianglong.

“The cost of necessary write-offs could be equivalent to $518 billion or almost half of China’s estimated gross domestic product of $1.1 trillion for 2001,” Mr Terry Chan, a S&P director in Hong Kong said.

The agency said China would be unlikely to cut NPLs in its banking sector to 15 per cent within five years, as its central bank wishes, given the current operating performance of the sector.”

I seriously doubt that the problem identified in 2002 has been resolved yet.  There is an analysis here that supports my assertion.

Source:SinoRock, 07.07.2010

Filed under: Banking, China, News, Risk Management, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

CSRC outlines how funds can invest in CSI 300 futures

The regulator releases an early draft of the proposed rules for Chinese mutual funds that want to invest in CSI 300 index futures.

s fund analysts and managers continue to attend futures training courses organised by the China Securities Regulatory Commission, a draft of the CSRC’s proposed rules on how Chinese mutual funds can invest in the upcoming CSI 300 index futures hit the industry’s email inboxes earlier this week.

The regulator is encouraging discussion in the industry; it wants the public to provide feedback on the rules by this coming Monday, March 22.

A first glance through the five-page draft seen by AsianInvestor suggests the rules look straightforward, and its broad strokes read largely the same — both in language and spirit — to the rules for futures investing by fund managers in Taiwan. (This doesn’t come as a surprise; the regulations governing mutual-fund investments in securities, which went into effect in China in 2004, were also modelled after those in Taiwan.)

In the draft, the CSRC does not go into detail on how managers will qualify for futures-investing status. Fund houses, instead, are advised to review their fund prospectuses and contracts agreed with investors back at the fundraising stage and decide for themselves whether futures investing would meet their initial investment objective and risk exposure level as promised to investors.

For the fund industry, use of futures for the purpose of return enhancement is not permitted. The CSRC says the purpose of any fund activities in the futures market should be risk management.

The futures instruments for fund investment must be approved by and listed on China’s securities exchanges, and based on indices tracking only equity prices. (So notions of funds participating in bond futures or pretty much any other type of derivative would be futile at this stage.)

There are 559 mutual funds known to exist in China, according to the latest fund-registrar data tracking numbers published at the end of January. A quick search using the word ‘futures’ in Chinese in a fund database yields only 29 hits, in which ‘futures’ are specifically mentioned in the fund contracts or prospectuses as acceptable instruments for use by these funds.

Should these managers be willing to take up the challenge, they will theoretically be the initial 29 participants able to actually short A-shares domestically in China. (And there are 11 onshore brokerages authorised to serve them.)

Equity funds, balanced funds and principal-protected funds appear largely free to allocate to the CSRC’s approved list of futures instruments. The regulator thus far has made no mention on what it intends to do about segregated accounts and multi-client segregated-accounts, which went live in 2008 and 2009 respectively.

There will be limits on the holdings of futures by close-ended funds, open-ended index funds and exchange-traded funds. At the end of any given trading day, total value of securities held plus futures may not exceed 100% of a fund’s NAV — in short, leverage will not be permitted for these funds.

For open-ended funds, managers will be allowed to hold futures with a total outstanding value that exceeds 10% of the fund’s daily AUM at market closing. Net turnover of equity futures trading in a fund cannot exceed 20% of a fund’s NAV.

At the end of any given trading day, the total value of futures positions plus the value of the securities held in an open-ended fund may not exceed 95% of the fund’s NAV — with ‘securities’ defined as equities, bonds, options, asset-backed securities and repo instruments. Five percent of the fund’s assets must be allocated to liquidity instruments with maturities no longer than the equivalent of one-year government bonds.

Mindful that the funds industry at large is still poring over lecture notes and textbooks this month and that most firms have not yet hired the required techies for back-end support, the CSRC is advising caution and proper understanding; all participants should be adequately prepared before they enter the futures market. The CSRC wants fund houses to set up specific departments covering futures strategies and investments.

Other stakeholders, including guarantors to the ‘principal-protected’ funds (China’s version of CPPIs), are advised to get actively involved and aware of the potential value-at-risk for the funds they have given guarantee to; and that there should be sufficient assets to cover the principal-protected funds promised to investors should any potential losses occur.

Custodian banks are advised to review their own adequacy and strategies accordingly and develop risk-management and technological teams and platforms to support this development.

In earlier interviews with AsianInvestor, fund-rating agencies, including Morningstar and Lipper, have already taken a dim view of the opening moves that mutual fund houses will be able to make. Aside from the anticipated volatility to come, both predict a conservative and difficult early period, in which fund houses will be constrained by a lack of experienced staff and technical knowledge to draw on — for what is supposedly one of the most important chapters in the recent history of capital-market developments in China.

Nonetheless, for now, unregulated private funds, foreign investors with access to A-share markets and high-net-worth clients, and the 11 brokerages authorised to trade futures, are expected to be the largest beneficiaries.

For foreign players, though, CSI 300 futures will just be something to add to the toolbox. Overseas funds have long been able to express their views on A-shares using FTSE Xinhua A50 futures available in Hong Kong or Singapore., 18.03.2010 by By Liz Mak

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China: Governor of the Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSE) Geng corrects three Misunderstandings on International Board

Geng Liang, member of the CPPCC National Committee and Governor of the Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSE), clarified ambiguous and incorrect assumptions in development of International Board in Beijing yesterday.

According to Geng, the introduction of International Board would benefit both the development of domestic capital market and the building of Shanghai into an international financial hub and would by no means reduce itself into a global ATM machine as some concerned.

Three Major Positive Effects of Int’l Board

“The decision of listing eligible overseas companies on domestic market, or introducing International Board, is made based on the consensuses reached through the Sino-US strategic economic dialogues and Sino-UK economic and trade dialogues. For China’s capital market, the launch of International Board will bring about benefits in three aspects,” said Geng. First of all, the launch of International Board, a milestone in China’s opening-up of its capital market, offers domestic investors a new channel to purchase shares of large overseas companies with RMB, which is by all means a progress.

Relevant insiders also hold that the opening of International Board is especially conducive to the investment in overseas enterprises by investors who are inexperienced in overseas investment and unfamiliar with foreign law and accounting systems.

Besides, the development of International Board will exert positive influence on the construction of blue-chip market, thus promoting the growth of China’s capital market. “The ultimate goal of the SSE is to build a blue-chip market, which includes high-quality Chinese and foreign listed companies,” added Geng.

Finally, International Board means a lot to building Shanghai into a global financial center. “The listing of overseas companies on domestic market will help pool human resources, capital and institutions to Shanghai,” noted Geng.

No Possibility for “Int’l ATM machine”

As to the concern about misusing International Board as “a global ATM machine”, Geng explained that under the arrangement that free exchange is forbidden under the RMB capital account, the A shares on the future International Board can’t be exchanged freely with the shares issued overseas. Thus, there is no possibility for “a global ATM machine”. Furthermore, “the large international companies, who apply for going listed on the SSE, have already got listed on overseas stock exchanges. Their listing on Chinese market is actually a behavior of refinancing. According to internationally accepted practices, the prices for refinancing generally shouldn’t exceed those on local secondary market.” Therefore, it is not qualified to be “a withdrawing behavior” in terms of scale.

Geng also stated that the launch of International Board would not impact Hong Kong’s position as an international financial center. “The support to Hong Kong market instead of affecting its construction of international financial hub by the return of H shares to A shares is a case in point. During the 20 years’ development of China’s capital market, 60 domestic enterprises went listed in Hong Kong, which vividly proved that the development of domestic capital market boosted Hong Kong market and exchange.”

Substantial Benefits of Int’l Board

Insiders hold that the benefits of initiating International Board are substantial. Apart from those mentioned by Geng, there are at least five more major benefits.

First, the new board will relieve the pressure from foreign exchange reserve, which accords with the development transition of national economy from capital attraction to technical, managerial and human resources introduction. Second, the new board will attract overseas natural resources and energy enterprises to get listed in China, thus helping break their capital barrier towards China’s capital by counteracting the increase in international commodity prices with equity income. Third, the new board provides a channel for Chinese investors to share the income from business conducted by multinational companies in China while changing the situation that multinational companies can only offer job opportunities to Chinese. Fourth, the corporate governance of domestic listed companies will be improved thanks to the model effect of overseas companies listed in China. Last but not least, the new board will help multinational companies integrate themselves with China’ economy to make greater contribution to the development of China’s economy.

Source: MondoVisione, 11.03.2010

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China’s QDII ETFs … taken with a pinch of salt

Despite the fanfare from QDII ETF issuers and the Shanghai Stock Exchange, these products are unlikely to achieve the lofty aims set for them.

If Shanghai Stock Exchange’s general manager, Zhang Yujun, is to be believed, China’s new generation of exchange-traded funds under the qualified domestic institutional investor (QDII) scheme will be ready for launch shortly.

The Shanghai bourse is keen to put its hotly anticipated products onto the market as soon as possible. It has marked 2010 down as a year of innovation, with the number of domestic and overseas ETF launches potentially hitting 10 for this year.

But it’s not the domestic ETFs that industry execs in Shanghai or around the region are buzzing about, but the overseas ETFs the SSE is championing. Market players are wondering what the developments will mean for the QDII market and what China’s fund flows in the region will look like after these products are made available.

The names now lining up in the QDII ETF pipeline include: China Southern, with its planned launch of a S&P 500 tracker; Beijing-based China Asset Management, which is going with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index; Harvest Fund Management, the new proud owner of Deutsche Asset Management’s Asian investment platform, using the Dow Jones Industrial Average; Shanghai’s Fortune SGAM, which will soon see its foreign stake transferred to Société Générale’s alternatives arm, Lyxor, and whose ETF tracks the Topix Core 30; not to mention Huaan’s newly announced initiative to track the FTSE 100.

In one fell swoop, the SSE is making available assets from around the world. Investors in China, at the click of a trade, will be able to access asset classes from US and UK equities to regional Asian exposures and Hong Kong and Japanese stocks.

(The list above does not cover Guotai Fund Management, one of the earliest Chinese houses wanting to license an index for an overseas ETF, which recently realised it will not attract enough liquidity for a niche index such as the Nasdaq 100. It is now quietly calling its product an “index-tracking fund”, instead of an ETF. Nor does the list include Penghua Fund, whose high-profile announcement of its supposed deal to have contracted three MSCI Barra indices was never confirmed by MSCI.)

Zhang says the Shanghai bourse wants to play its part in ‘standardising’ asset management. Index-based products are easily understood by investors, and through the standardisation process, the SSE believes it will bring transparency and even discourage moral hazards among asset managers.

Better yet, since trading and management fees for ETF instruments are traditionally the lowest for products globally, the introduction of ETF competition into the Chinese market should help bring down the high fees usually seen in the active management sector. And the way Zhang sees it, passive and index-based investments will eventually outperform.

Yet all these laudable ambitions should be taken with a pinch of salt. Far from having developed ETFs that come up to expectations, the SSE’s versions of these products and the underlying mechanism are hardly on a par with developed-market ETFs.

In particular, sources say the SSE boss’s comments are meant for domestic consumption — the exchange has been publicly pressuring the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) into approving the ETF launches, which were planned to have happened as early as November last year.

Why the regulatory hesitation? The CSRC was an early champion of introducing more liquid and transparent ETFs to China. But the SSE has not resolved the multiple technical barriers limiting the listing of an efficient overseas product in the country, as is revealed by an early blueprint for the Harvest Dow tracker jointly designed by Harvest and the SSE, and made public by the exchange. The SSE has made compromises in the design and the trading mechanisms of these supposed ETFs.

Amid the fanfare created by the issuing fund houses and even the SSE itself, one key point appears to be overlooked. The unspoken truth is that since the bourse has failed to tackle the underlying issues, the planned ETFs could only trade on exchanges as closed-end funds and would largely fail to deliver the many benefits normally expected of genuine ETFs.

These products will face challenges from day one, including: time differences in settlement cycles between the SSE and the exchange of the underlying index’s traded market; the lag in trading hours between China and underlying securities; the limitations of China’s lack of market-making mechanisms, and its reliance on its unique arbitrage mechanisms for levelling ETF traded prices and net asset values; and China’s foreign exchange restrictions, which currently only allow for monthly repatriation of capital. All of which the SSE has acknowledged in its white paper on ETFs that is available to the public.

Bound by these limitations, these products will not be able, for example, to perform continuous creation of units like normal ETFs, unlike even the very same strategies traded in Hong Kong. The NAVs will be largely static during the trading hours in China, though the ETF prices will be subject to supply-demand swings. (Hong Kong’s platform is backed by market-makers, unlike Shanghai’s, which is highly sensitive to liquidity and the level of trading among arbitrageurs on underlying strategies.)

The question then becomes: will China ever attract enough interest among arbitrageurs to trade on these faraway markets without real-time information? After all, when China trades, the US and the UK markets will be largely closed. Even for markets that sit in Asian time zones and close at hours overlapping China’s, there will be time differences on the settlement cycles. Arbitrageurs, therefore, will have to trade by assuming and incurring all risks themselves.

For example, a Ping An Hong Kong subsidiary doesn’t trade on the books of Ping An’s mainland entity. Legal status still withstanding, they are very different entities. One unit south of the border going short, cannot be reconciled from an accounting perspective by a separate unit going long north of the border. So, from where and how will these arbitrageurs emerge?

Because of the many compromises the Shanghai bourse has made to fit QDII ETFs into the existing — but highly unique — domestic ETF mechanism, the forthcoming international instruments can largely only be ETFs in name but not substance. An even better way to understand them is actually to see them as the equivalent of ‘listed open funds’ or ‘Lofs’ — products peculiar to China.

Ultimately, QDII ETFs are no different from closed-end funds — so why the current fuss over them? Sources close to the Shanghai bourse’s advisory panel say there’s really no reason for it — they are just another group of products to add to China’s well stocked shelf.

Nonetheless, they offer a slightly better alternative to the many internally managed and largely cost-return-inefficient QDII active funds now available in the market. And the idea of ETFs from a marketing perspective will no doubt catch on.

But even the mere illusion of innovation in the QDII market may be a false dawn. Both active and passive QDII managers will continue to be plagued by domestic expectations of further renminbi appreciation and by the bad reputation of the first generation of QDII products still freshly and firmly fixed in the minds of Chinese investors.

To wit, E-fund — the second biggest Chinese fund house, no less — kicked off the year with a fundraising attempt of just $86.6 million for its first QDII product.

Source:, 10.03.2010 by Liz Mak

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