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Northeast Asia

London Stock Connect may give China a bridge to New York

The link appears to be finally taking shape, but with the dollar as its biggest trading and settlement currency, the scheme looks increasingly skewed towards investors in the US.

By Noah Sin

About four years after the equity link was first floated as an idea, the London Stock Exchange (LSE) has laid out the ground rules for the connect. 

China and the UK will launch the first product as London Stock Connect before the end of this year, Fang Xinghai, vice-chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, told a forum in Shanghai at the end of May. “We are taking the first step in connecting the largest emerging market in the world with the oldest mature international market,” he said.

The access programme will allow firms to list using depository receipts (DR). Only Shanghai-listed companies worth over Rmb20 billion ($3.12 billion) can list DRs in London. They also cannot issue more than 15% of their share capital on the so-called ‘Shanghai board’ at the LSE. So far, so normal. But what is notable is that the dollar is set to be the dominant currency for trading on the London-Shanghai link; renminbi and Sterling could be added at a later stage.

This is in stark contrast to the Hong Kong Stock Connect, where transactions were settled in offshore renminbi (CNH) before the introduction of dollar settlement too last November.