…on December 5th.
That’s according to the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEX), whose Stock Exchange of Hong Kong subsidiary signed an agreement with its Shenzhen counterpart on rules for Shenzhen Connect last month. The agreement was just approved by mainland Chinese regulators.
what is Shenzhen Connect?
It’s a mechanism that allows investors in Hong Kong to buy or sell Shenzhen-listed stocks, up to a specified (but large) total daily limit. It also allows China-based investors to buy and sell Hong Kong-listed stocks through the Shenzhen Exchange.
The start of Shenzhen Connect trading follows the successful establishment of a similar arrangement between Hong Kong and Shanghai, called Stock Connect, a little more than two years ago.
In a practical sense, Shenzhen Connect and Stock Connect together end the closed nature of the Chinese stock market. Doing so is an important economic objective of Beijing. It’s another step down the road to dismantling the central planning and control that has characterized Chinese socialism since WWII.
rising Shenzhen shares?
Will this signal a boom in Hong Kong interest in China-listed shares? I don’t think so, but it will be interesting to watch and find out.
Stock Connect, which opened the Shanghai stock market to foreigners wasn’t such a big deal, in my view. That exchange is dominated by state-controlled banks and by stodgy old industrials headed mostly by state functionaries with no idea of how to run a profitable business. Beijing will protect the banks but is content to let the gradually wither and die. So I didn’t see any rush to be the first foreigner to arrive in 2014.
The Shenzhen Exchange, on the other hand, is home to much more entrepreneurial firms, with little or no official state involvement. So, in theory, yes, I might want to participate.
A big roadblock for me, though: I have no idea whether I can trust the financial reports that companies issue.
Two ways to find out: listen carefully to what local players say and do; and visit the companies that sound interesting, interview the managements–and then watch to see how what they say matches up with operating results and what the financials report.
Even then, my experience is that you may not be safe. Years ago, I visited a small Hong Kong manufacturing company at the urging (I didn’t need much) of a friend. The firm told me a fabulous story of its success making computers for children. I went back to see the management some months later. They didn’t recognize me as a person they’d spoken with before. This time they told me an equally dollar-sign-filled story, but this time they were an auto parts firm. Whoops.
I’m not willing/able to put in the effort required to understand how the stock market game is played in Shenzhen. So, Shenzhen Connect won’t tempt me away from the sidelines.