Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing welcomes more small and medium-sized mainland enterprises to list in the city, chief executive Charles Li Xiaojia said as HKEx celebrated 20 years of H shares yesterday.
Tsingtao Brewery, which listed in Hong Kong in July 1993, was followed by 175 more H-share listings. The shares of mainland-incorporated firms listed in the city now make up a fifth of the market's capitalisation and nearly two-fifths of its turnover.
Among them are mammoth counters such as Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and Bank of China. However, brokers said future candidates might be smaller as the mainland was reportedly planning to relax the rules to allow more mainland SMEs to list as H shares.
"We welcome mainland SMEs and big players such as Alibaba to list in Hong Kong," Li said after a ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of the first listing of H shares.
"H-share listings and London Metal Exchange are both important businesses for HKEx's future development," he said.
HKEx completed a deal in December last year to buy London Metal Exchange, the world's largest metal exchange, as part of its plans to expand into commodities trading.
LME was sued last week along with Goldman Sachs in a class action in the United States for alleged anti-competitive and monopolistic behaviour in connection with aluminium prices.
The lead plaintiff is Extrusion Superior, a producer of metal products.
Li played down the lawsuit yesterday, saying: "There are people suing each other in the US every day. Our initial assessment is that the allegation in the lawsuit is without any grounds."
HKEx chairman Chow Chung-kong said H-share listings as well as the internationalisation of the yuan would provide more business opportunities to the local bourse.
Chow said the listing of H shares not only raised funds for mainland firms but helped them adopt international corporate governance practices.
Also at the ceremony were former HKEx chairman Charles Lee Yeh-kwong and former China Securities Regulatory Commission chairman Liu Hongru, who were among those who worked out the scheme to allow H shares to list in the city two decades ago.