US$1b flows in as bond connect market kicks off

Shares of France’s Total SA rose after it said it would sign a deal that completes a $1 billion investment in a giant Iranian gas field

At the launching ceremony for the bond connect between mainland China and Hong Kong on July 3rd, PBOC's Deputy Governor Pan Gongsheng said that "the bond link scheme will serve as a bridge to connect mainland markets with worldwide markets".

Chinese regulators have also shown greater flexibility in adopting global standards, with foreign investors being allowed to settle bond transactions on a T+2 basis, on top of the original T+0 and T+1 arrangement.

"The scheme not only provides an additional channel for worldwide investors to tap into the world's third largest bond market, but also reinforces Hong Kong's strategic importance as the gateway between China and the rest of the world", said Benjamin Hung, CEO for Standard Chartered China and North Asia.

The growing Chinese bond market has been virtually out of reach for foreign investors, who now hold less than 1.5% of bonds issued in China, according to estimates by Bloomberg.

In the initial phase, overseas investors can invest in the China interbank bond market through mutual access arrangements in respect of trading, custody and settlement.

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The connection will increase the supply of yuan-denominated assets that can be held by global investors as Beijing steps up the internationalization of its currency.

A long-awaited programme opening Chinese markets up to foreign investors was launched on Monday, initiating a capital inflow of up to $250 billion. This is below the worldwide norm of about 10 percent, BNP Paribas said.

According to the latest China Central Depository & Clearing data, foreign holdings of Chinese bonds rose for the third straight month to 775 billion yuan in May.

HSBC Holdings Plc, Standard Chartered Plc and Citigroup Inc were among banks announcing they had completed their first deals as market makers in the new system. China Development Bank said it planned to issue up to 20 billion yuan ($2.95 billion) of one-year, three-year and 10-year fixed-rate bonds for tender on Monday. Accern also gave media stories about the Wireless communications provider an impact score of 16 out of 100, indicating that recent news coverage is very unlikely to have an effect on the company's share price in the near term.

HKEx chief executive Charles Li said demand for a southbound channel was limited, meaning the bond connect scheme will only allow investors to initially trade northwards. He told that the introduction of the bond connect also shows the central government's support to increase Hong Kong's role as a global financial hub.

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