WHARF (Holdings) has appointed Morgan Stanley to manage its global convertible bond issue, which sources say is expected to raise US$300 million (about HK$2.34 billion). The deal is a coup for Morgan Stanley, which has not been a major participant in a string of dragon bond issues over the past month. The issue is understood to be the first Euroconvertible by a Hongkong listed company. Both companies refused to comment because of tight restrictions imposed by the US Securities Exchange Commission. The bond is partly aimed at US investors. However, sources said the issue could be launched in the next few days. Sources said the $300 million tag could be adjusted depending on investor interest. Last week, Wharf said the issue would have a maturity between seven and 10 years. It is now understood the maturity is likely to be at the shorter end of this range. Morgan Stanley and Wharf executives are talking to potential investors in the US and Europe. A Euroconvertible is effectively a Eurobond with an option to convert into shares. In the Wharf issue, Morgan Stanley intends to introduce a Hongkong company to overseas investors. This contrasts with a dragon bond, which involves bringing overseas organisations seeking investors into the region. The bond is expected to be in units of US$5,000 and have a conversion price about 10 per cent higher than Wharf's close of HK$20.40 on the stock market yesterday. Companies issuing this type of instrument, unlike those issuing conventional debt, do not usually need a credit rating.