Global Impact: Hong Kong’s stock market eyes light at the end of the tunnel after 3 years in the doldrums

Global Impact: Hong Kong’s stock market eyes light at the end of the tunnel after 3 years in the doldrums

Global Impact: Hong Kong’s stock market eyes light at the end of the tunnel after 3 years in the doldrums

Global capital rushed to Wall Street after the US Federal Reserve raised its key interest rate by five percentage points from 2022, and initial public offerings (IPOs) slowed to a trickle in Hong Kong.

A lot will be riding on the shoulders of Bonnie Chan Yiting, who took over from Gucho – as Aguzin is known to his friends – on March 1 as the first woman chief executive of the exchange.

05:39

Hong Kong stock market falls below 15,000 level, its lowest in 15 months

Hong Kong stock market falls below 15,000 level, its lowest in 15 months

Chan – who was the chief operating officer of HKEX before her promotion – had been busy laying the groundwork with her exchange colleagues to prepare for a rebound in market sentiments and the return of capital as interest rates are poised to fall this year.
Last year, the HKEX opened the door for companies to raise funds in Hong Kong dollars or the yuan through so-called dual-currency counters, a major step towards tapping the 1 trillion yuan (US$139 billion) in yuan deposits sitting in the city.
The exchange, which was the world’s top IPO destination for seven of the past 15 years, digitalised the fundraising process into a platform called FINI to cut the settlement period from five to two days.
Fundraising proceeds may more than double this year, positioning HKEX to claw its way back into the world’s top five destinations, KPMG said.
It launched a platform to make it easier for asset managers to sell funds to retail investors. After being bypassed in 2019 in Saudi Aramco’s US$29.4 billion stock sale, the HKEX signed a deal last year with the Tadawul exchange in Riyadh to create short cuts for Saudi companies to raise funds through secondary listings in Hong Kong.

04:43

HKEX considers opening offices in US and Europe to court global listings

HKEX considers opening offices in US and Europe to court global listings

The exchange even tried to institute uninterrupted trading during typhoons, taking the axe to a 1950s rule that declared a non-trading recess whenever the city’s observatory issues a No 8 signal during strong cyclones. The public consultation for the controversial plan has wrapped up, and the HKEX is expected to announce a solution by July before the typhoon season starts in summer.
The central government in Beijing has also spared no efforts in giving Hong Kong a leg up. The city’s pool of offshore yuan received a 60 per cent boost during a 2022 upgrade that turned the yuan settlement programme into a permanent arrangement of 800 billion yuan.
The decade-old Connect transborder investment channel between Hong Kong, Shanghai and Shenzhen has been broadened to include bonds and wealth management products, in addition to stocks.

01:04

Saudi Future Investment Institute holds first Asia conference in Hong Kong

Saudi Future Investment Institute holds first Asia conference in Hong Kong

Even now, officials are advocating for cutting the financial threshold for taking part in the Connect scheme, which would open the floodgates for more capital to pour southwards to HKEX. The bourse signed an agreement with the nascent Beijing Stock Exchange last June to dual-list in each other’s market.
To be sure, the exchange CEO is not responsible for the stock market’s rise or fall. Still, all the preparations during the recent slump put the HKEX in a good position to benefit when the tide turns. HKEX reported its second-best financial results in its history this year, even amid the market slump.

Chan, who wrote the paper that formed the legal basis for the HKEX’s listing reforms to allow dual-class stocks, may draw some confidence from history.

The Hang Seng Index rose in each of the four dragon years in the lunar calendar going back to 1976, according to a study by the Post. Even in 2000, the lunar cycle managed to eke out a gain of 0.5 per cent in a market that slumped 11 per cent over the calendar year after the dotcom bubble burst.

60-Second Catch-up

Deep dives

Illustration: Brian Wang

Hong Kong bankers on ‘survival mode’ as IPO drought ends windfalls

  • ‘The environment is very stressful right now, particularly for young investment bankers, says Jerry Chang, a consultant at Barons & Co

  • The landscape has shifted considerably since the last quarter, with an overall decrease in hiring across the investment banking sector: Robert Walters

Hong Kong’s market for initial public offerings (IPOs) is suffering from another sluggish start in 2024. Once a beacon of hope for retail investors looking for a windfall and a lucrative source of fees for investment bankers, listings have instead become a source of stress and job insecurity due to a drop in such activity.

This year, five companies have raised HK$2.18 billion (US$279 million) from their stock offerings in the first two months, according to data compiled by London Stock Exchange Group, the slowest momentum since 2011. In mainland China, 18 IPOs generated 15.2 billion yuan (US$2.1 billion), the least since 2016 at this stage. In contrast, the US market is enjoying its best run in three years, with 26 IPOs and US$6.3 billion in proceeds.

Photo: Jonathan Wong

China’s fillip to bonds, wealth products is a leg up for Hong Kong

  • The policies will be a boon for central bank digital currencies such as Hong Kong’s e-HKD and the mainland’s e-CNY, as they get the go-ahead for simultaneous trials

  • Another new policy known as cross-boundary credit referencing will allow banks in Hong Kong and the mainland to share credit information of the companies

Hong Kong’s role as the trading hub for offshore yuan will get a leg up from the policies unveiled by the People’s Bank of China to enhance wealth management and the Bond Connect transborder investment channel, according to speakers at the Asian Financial Forum (AFF).

The new policies will also benefit Hong Kong’s developers as they relaxed cross-border payment rules between the 11 cities of the Greater Bay Area to make it easier for the residents of Hong Kong and Macau to buy homes in southern China, said New World Development’s Chief Financial Officer Edward Lau Fu-keung.

Illustration: Ka-Kuen Lau

Hong Kong’s star shines as Greater Bay Area’s rich tap tax breaks, incentives

  • Greater Bay Area money flows have boosted Hong Kong’s wealth management assets nearly 30 per cent to US$3.9 trillion in the five years to the end of 2022

  • From February 26, the Wealth Management Connect scheme will be expanded for bay area residents with higher investment quotas and fund choices

February 18 marks five years since Beijing unveiled its blueprint to turn the Greater Bay Area into a hi-tech powerhouse by 2035. The region of more than 86 million people covers Hong Kong, Macau and nine Guangdong cities.

In the third of a four-part series, Enoch Yiu looks at Hong Kong’s progress in becoming the de facto wealth management hub for the wealthy, and what needs to done to stay on top.

Illustration: Henry Wong

Hong Kong IPOs: here’s what’s in store in 2024 after a miserable 2023

  • Hong Kong stock exchange’s IPO ranking sank to 8th this year, with fundraising slumping to US$5.9 billion from 68 listings

  • Analysts are confident Hong Kong can shrug off a dismal year, pointing to a slew of positive signs including potentially lower interest rates and China’s policy boost

When Chinese baijiu maker ZJLD Group raised HK$5.31 billion (US$676.4 million) in April, few would have expected it to be Hong Kong’s biggest initial public offering of the year.
It trailed China Tourism Group Duty Free’s US$2.3 billion IPO in 2022 and fell far short of short-video platform Kuaishou Tech’s US$6.2 billion listing the previous year. Hong Kong’s IPO value fell 53.5 per cent to a 20-year low of US$5.9 billion from 68 listings, according to Refinitiv data. Simply put, 2023 was dismal for IPOs.
Illustration: Lau Ka-kuen

Dual counter to lift Hong Kong’s yuan hub status, improve liquidity

  • The dual-currency counters will offer investors a choice of trading in Hong Kong dollars or in yuan and the two categories of shares will be fungible

  • The number of yuan-share class funds have near doubled to 377 at the end of 2022 from 191 in 2018

When veteran stockbroker Tom Chan Pak-lam first entered the securities industry in 1993, the yuan currency that he carried during his deal-making trips to China was strictly for spending on meals and hotels.

“Thirty years ago, international investors did not care about the yuan shares listed in Shanghai and Shenzhen,” said Chan, permanent honourable president of industry body Institute of Securities Dealers, while referring to the indifference towards the undervalued currency which was hard-pegged to the dollar.

Illustration: SCMP

Does Trump want to fence off Wall Street from Chinese firms?

  • Chinese companies are asking the ‘hard question’ of whether they should list in the US or Hong Kong

  • If the US cannot be viewed as a viable, stable counter party, ‘you’re going to get a competitor somewhere in the world’, says NYU finance professor

As the White House continues to put pressure on Beijing to reach a deal on trade, concerns are growing the Trump administration may try to shut Chinese companies out of capital markets in the United States.

It would mark a stark shift in policy and politicise what has been one of the key tenets that has fuelled massive gains in the US financial markets for decades – the free flow of capital.

Global Impact is a weekly curated newsletter featuring a news topic originating in China with a significant macro impact for our newsreaders around the world.

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