The China Securities Regulatory Commission will allow overseas stock exchanges to set up office in the mainland while saying it will close any offices or halt promotional work undertaken without official authorisation. Market watchers said the market regulator's move would restrict the activities of overseas exchanges in China as many bourses, including those from London, New York, Singapore, Tokyo and Toronto, have undertaken promotional work in the country over the past years despite not having offices there. Brokers believe the New York Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq Stock Market and the London Stock Exchange, as well as exchanges from Malaysia, Singapore and Tokyo, would be interested in the offer. They added that it would increase the competitive pressure on Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing which in 2003 became the sole exchange to set up an office in Beijing. An exchange spokesperson said Hong Kong would follow all CSRC rules but believed that the new announcement would not have a big impact on its operations. The new rule posted on the CSRC's website yesterday said all overseas exchanges could from July 1 apply to set up a representative office in the mainland. Any unauthorised mainland presence or promotional work would be prohibited, the notice said. The CSRC said it will provide approval only for exchanges that have been in operation for at least 20 years, are financially sound and from markets that have signed a regulatory memorandum of understanding with the CSRC. Nasdaq International president Charlotte Crosswell said the US-based exchange would be willing to apply to set up an office in Beijing and would submit an application once the new rules become effective from July. She said Nasdaq would appoint a team of staff locally and send representatives from New York to carry out promotional and relationship work to encourage more mainland firms to list. At present, 41 mainland companies are listed on Nasdaq. 'We are delighted to see the new regulations, which will allow overseas exchanges to open an office in China. Nasdaq has been in talks with the CSRC for a long time to discuss the possibility of setting up a Beijing office,' Ms Crosswell said in a telephone interview yesterday.