London exchange aims to open office in Beijing next year

PUBLISHED : Monday, 01 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 01 October, 2007, 12:00am

London Stock Exchange, the largest European bourse, will apply to set up a representative office in Beijing early next year, following its US counterparts' efforts to entice mainland firms to list on their exchanges.

Tracey Pierce, head of the LSE's global business development, said in an interview the exchange would submit an application to the China Securities Regulatory Commission in the next few months and hoped the office could open early next year.

'What we want to have is to let the Beijing office establish a closer link with the mainland regulators and potential listing hopefuls,' she said.

The London exchange's plan to set up an office in Beijing comes after the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq won approvals to do so in the past month. 'China is the fastest-growing market and many companies have a need to raise funds,' Ms Pierce said.

There were 132 initial public offerings in the mainland that raised US$30 billion so far this year, edging the 129 deals that raised US$29.8 billion in the United States, making the mainland the world's largest IPO market, according to Thomson Financial. Britain, the fifth-largest, had 73 deals that raised US$11.6 billion.

Sixty-six mainland firms are listed on the London exchange, 60 of which are on the second board - the Alternative Investment Market, which has easier listing requirements.

Ms Pierce also said the recent change in the London bourse's shareholder structure, now 48 per cent owned by two Middle East state investment agencies, would not affect its plan in the mainland.

Last week, the Qatar Investment Authority bought 20 per cent of the exchange, while Dubai bought 28 per cent from Nasdaq Stock Exchange.

Ms Pierce said the AIM board was not risk-free. She said it had added a transparency requirement that all companies must have a website to disclose information in English to investors.

'It is not a zero-risk market but we believe we are able to achieve a balance between flexibility and shareholder protection. So far, we have only recorded a 3 per cent failure rate of the AIM companies in the past 12 years, which is not too bad,' she said.