HKEX talks to lure Saudi Aramco listing "will never stop" - CEO
Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd (HKEX) is still in talks with oil giant Saudi Aramco, with the bourse`s planned IPO investment links with China key to clinching the potential listing, Chief Executive Charles Li told Reuters on Tuesday.
In February, Li said the stock exchange would bank on its role as a gateway to mainland China`s deep-pocketed investors to win the coveted listing of state oil firm Saudi Arabian Oil Co.
Li, speaking at a Reuters Newsmaker event, said "the talk will never stop" in trying to woo the oil giant, with China now one of the largest importers of Saudi crude.
Li said, however, that a planned primary stock connect, which would allow mainland Chinese investors to participate in Hong Kong initial public offerings (IPOs), would be pivotal in convincing Aramco to list in the Asian financial hub.
Saudi authorities plan to list up to 5 percent of the world`s largest oil producer on the Saudi stock exchange in Riyadh, the Tadawul, and also one or more international markets, potentially raising as much as $100 billion.NEW TRADING BOARD
Li also said he expects to conclude final recommendations on rules for a new trading board "in the coming weeks".
HKEX started public consultation in June on the possibility of a board allowing listings of companies with dual-class share structures, which would be aimed at so-called new-economy firms in sectors such as the internet and bio-technology.
Asia`s third-biggest equity bourse by market value is eager to increase its exposure to new, high-growth sectors to remain among the world`s top destinations to list shares.
Public consultation ended last month, with financial industry professionals still divided over the matter.
Li said there might be a need for another round of consultation to decide how the new board and weighted voting rights would be implemented. Discussions would be "very intensive", Li added.
Hong Kong`s government and regulators are increasingly concerned that a series of scandals, many centred on mainland Chinese companies listed in Hong Kong, has tarnished the territory`s reputation as a financial centre.
Hong Kong has grabbed international headlines following scandals at companies including Hanergy Thin Film Power Group Ltd and China Huishan Dairy Holdings Co Ltd, while a penny stocks crash earlier this year impacted the Growth Enterprise Market.
The bourse`s second trading board has seen high levels of volatility due to very concentrated shareholdings and concerns have grown over the quality of companies listed there.
Addressing concerns about listing criteria being less stringent on the new board, Li said public interest would not be compromised for profitability. He also downplayed the likelihood of the local financial regulator being given more regulatory heft or oversight.
"Public interest is number one," he said.
"The key is the market will understand that the bulk of the listing rule regulation is still going to be at the exchange but the SFC will take a proactive role whenever they see fit," he said, referring to the Securities & Futures Commission of Hong Kong.
Li added, however, that Hong Kong needed to find new ways to attract so-called new-economy companies to stay competitive.
The HKEX chief also said he saw a sharp increase in international companies raising capital in Hong Kong since the start of the Hong Kong-Shenzhen stock connect, which allows non-Chinese investors to buy Shenzhen-listed shares via Hong Kong.
(This article has not been edited by Zeebiz editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)
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