Hong Kong blue chips are lining up to list on the mainland once red chips are allowed to sell A shares at home, even though the relevant regulation is not yet ready. 'Most foreign companies aiming to expand on the mainland will ultimately list there,' said a banker, who estimated it would take 'one to 11/2 years' for this to happen. Beijing is eager for established foreign companies to trade on the domestic markets to temper the rampant speculation by introducing relatively slow growing but stable and reputable firms to soak up some of the liquidity. Hong Kong-listed lenders such as HSBC Holdings, its subsidiary Hang Seng Bank, and Bank of East Asia have expressed interest in listing on the mainland. They are among the firms making the greatest push into the mainland. HSBC and BEA already have domestic licences on the mainland, and Hang Seng is expected to receive one soon. Michael Smith, the president and chief executive of Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp, the Asia-Pacific unit of HSBC, has said both HSBC and Hang Seng Bank preferred to list their entire operations, rather than just their mainland units. Lee Shau-kee, the chairman of Henderson Land Development, said the Hong Kong-listed developer hoped to list A shares as the valuation could be more attractive. It also has a large, expanding presence in the country. 'It gives Hong Kong enterprises one more channel to raise funds at higher valuations and helps boost their brand names on the mainland,' said Ronald Wan, the managing director and head of investment banking at Bank of Communications International. 'That's also good for enhancing the mainland's capital market status as it could successfully attract international corporations to list on its exchanges.' The Shanghai Stock Exchange is already holding talks with foreign companies, including HSBC, courting them to list there. 'I don't know if we will see it this year or next year. In the long run, yes, no question it will happen. We want overseas groups to list here,' the Financial Times quoted James Liu, a senior official at the Shanghai exchange, as saying. Market watchers believe that foreign firms would be able to list on the mainland once overseas incorporated mainland firms - or red chips - do. Currently, non-mainland incorporated companies cannot list on the mainland, something regulators have said they intend to reverse to increase the number of large companies available to domestic investors. Sources have said China Mobile, Lenovo Group, CNOOC, China Netcom Corp and an electronic components maker would be the first to be granted permission.