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Investors seek safety in QDII funds
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An old Chinese saying goes something like this: A wise man thinks of crisis in times of prosperity.


Zhao Heping, a 33-year-old bank consultant, sees himself as such a man. Having made a windfall profit in the stock market, he says he is worried about getting caught in the crash that he sees looming on the horizon.


Such concerns could strike some people as being remote at a time when the stock market is on the boil, and the index is breaking records almost every day. But it appears there are enough small investors who share this view to create surprisingly strong demand for funds invested in foreign stocks in the form of QDII (qualified domestic institutional investors) funds.


The three existing QDII funds were oversubscribed by more than 200 times their combined $14 billion in approved assets when they were issued. Such enthusiasm came as "a surprise to us all," said Zhou Liang, head of research at Lipper China, which tracks the performance of QDII funds.


"The (domestic stock) index is climbing too fast," said Zhao. "Investors are walking on a high wire."


To build an investment safety net for himself, Zhao parked 30,000 yuan ($3,870) of the money he earned in the stock market in the country's first equities QDII fund in September. The fund is managed by China Southern Fund Management Co Ltd and will mainly be invested in Hong Kong and some overseas stock markets.


"The QDII fund is expected to be less risky because most H shares listed on the Hong Kong bourse are now cheaper than A shares," Zhao said.


A product sales manager at China Construction Bank in Shanghai said: "Most investors in QDII funds are looking for more stable investment alternatives than the domestic stock market. They want to diversify their risks by investing in the global market."


Sun Yiye, a 24-year-old office worker who has invested 10,000 yuan in a QDII fund, said she is planning to gradually unload all her domestic shares in favor of QDII funds.


"I want to try something new," she said. She said she would subscribe 10,000 yuan of new QDIIs to be issued.


After redeeming some mutual funds because they were not performing as well as she hoped, a 50-year-old securities fund worker said she planned to invest 100,000 yuan in a QDII fund.


"I have confidence in the rich experience of overseas consulting teams employed by QDII fund management companies. What's more, most QDII funds will invest in Asian markets, which will help to avoid currency risks arising from a weak US dollar," she said.


After researching mutual funds for many years, a reporter who covers securities said she also plans to try some QDII funds.


"I did not expect it to perform exceptionally. I will be satisfied if it performs better than (the rate of inflation)," she said.


However, not all QDII investors know exactly what it is they are buying. "Many old people do not know what a QDII is. They just took them as ordinary mutual funds," a product manager surnamed Liang at China Construction Bank said. "Investors should be educated better during the sales."


(China Daily October 15, 2007)


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