Securities regulator to relax rules on listing

China Daily, January 17, 2012

The mainland's securities regulator plans to relax controls on Hong Kong and overseas listings for mainland companies and will push for issues of yuan-denominated shares in the offshore yuan market, China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) Vice-Chairman, Yao Gang, said on Monday.

Speaking at the Asian Financial Forum in Hong Kong, Yao said the standards to list so-called H-shares are too high and the approval process is time-consuming.

"Current H-share listing rules were set more than a decade ago, and there haven't been changes throughout these years," Yao said.

"This year, the CSRC will conduct a comprehensive revision of overseas listing rules," he added.

"The revision will simplify procedures and lower thresholds, providing good conditions for small to medium-sized and privately-owned mainland companies to list overseas."

The market capitalization of Hong Kong-listed H-share and red-chip companies accounted for more than half of the special administrative region's stock market capitalization, Yao said.

Overseas IPOs by mainland companies raised $15.3 billion last year, down 58 percent from 2010 and a three-year low, Bloomberg data show.

There were 59 such deals last year, compared with 124 in 2010.

In Hong Kong, IPOs by mainland companies raised $13.1 billion last year, a 59 percent decline from 2010, according to Bloomberg data.

The CSRC will also push for yuan-denominated share sales and enlarge the quotas for yuan investment on the mainland.

A pilot program that allows offshore yuan to be transferred back to the mainland to invest in capital markets, known as the renminbi qualified foreign institutional investor (RQFII) program, will also be expanded, Yao said.

The CSRC had already approved RQFII quotas for 21 mainland financial institutions to launch related RQFII investment products, he added.

"In addition to funding investment products, the RQFII enlargement can also take the form of yuan-based exchange-traded fund listings on the Hong Kong bourse that can track the A-share index's market trend," Yao said.

Since the CSRC, the People's Bank of China (the central bank) and the State Administration of Foreign Exchange jointly announced the implementation of the RQFII quota of 20 billion yuan ($3.17 billion) in December, a flurry of RQFII investment products have flooded Hong Kong. The local securities regulator, the Securities and Futures Commission, has already approved 17 RQFII investment products that have used quotas of nearly 17 billion yuan, Chairman Eddy Fong said.