Great rush for iBonds turns to a trickle

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 June, 2012, 12:00am


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Two brokerages yesterday received at least HK$750 million in cash and margin subscriptions for the second issue of iBonds, an indication initial demand appears lukewarm compared with last year's frenzy.

Banks in Kwun Tong also saw a tepid response.

Philips Securities yesterday received HK$650 million in both cash and margin subscriptions, a spokeswoman said, while Haitong Securities received HK$100 million in margin subscriptions.

Last year's first batch of iBonds was oversubscribed, drawing HK$13 billion of applications for the HK$10 billion in bonds.

Most of the people yesterday opted for margin subscriptions, and the average order size was around HK$100,000, the Philips Securities spokeswoman said. It received HK$100 million in cash and margin subscriptions during last year's rush.

Cheah Cheng Hye, chairman of fund house Value Partners, highly recommended iBonds - which are indexed to inflation - as high inflation could be around the corner in 18 to 24 months as the US implements monetary easing policies.

In the first two hours after opening at 9am, one bank in Yue Man Square, Kwun Tong, just west of the MTR station, reported only a few customers showing interest in the bonds. Another bank reported 20 people inquiring about them.

The Monetary Authority's issue of another HK$10 billion in inflation-linked bonds is part of its efforts to develop the city's bond market and protect residents against inflation.

Those most interested yesterday were elderly people, who said the iBonds were more stable than other investment products, and offered better rates than bank savings.

Wan Woon-oi, a first-time buyer, said: 'There's no use putting it in the bank. The interest isn't even enough to buy a pineapple bun.' Wan wanted to buy HK$50,000 worth of iBonds.

Although her preferred investment is blue-chip stocks, Wan said 'investing in blue-chips stocks is no good either, now'.

Lam Wai-ling, a first-time investor who wants stability, said 'iBonds are less risky than stocks. One downside, however, is the lack of flexibility - you can't sell iBonds for at least three years.'

The three-year bonds, with a minimum HK$10,000 subscription, have a floating interest rate that will match the consumer price index for the preceding six months. The minimum interest rate is 1 per cent, and it is payable every six months.

Holders of Hong Kong ID cards can subscribe until June 13.