China quickens approval for firms to invest offshore yuan on mainland

SHANGHAI, July 24 Wed Jul 24, 2013 2:48am BST

SHANGHAI, July 24 (Reuters) - China's stock watchdog has quickened the pace of approval for new investors in the Renminbi Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor (RQFII) programme, which allows foreign investors to buy Chinese stocks and bonds using offshore yuan.

The China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) approved three new RQFII investors in June, the most it has done in a month since December 2011 when it gave the thumbs up to nine right after it launched the programme, CSRC data published late on Tuesday showed.

The three are Hang Seng Investment Management Ltd, ICBC (Asia) Investment Management Co Ltd and Taiping Asset Management (Hong Kong) Co Ltd. A total of 22 RQFII investors had been approved by the end of June, the data showed.

In a major expansion to the programme's scope, a CSRC spokesman announced on July 12 that the government had decided the RQFII programme would be extended to London, Singapore, Taiwan and other unnamed locations. It presently is only available to investors in Hong Kong.

But the government did not change the net quota for RQFII, which stands at 270 billion yuan ($44 billion).

At the same time, the authorities almost doubled the quota of the hard-currency denominated Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor (QFII) scheme to $150 billion, as Beijing moves to widen channels for foreign investors buying mainland stocks, bonds and money market instruments.

However, much of the current QFII and RQFII quotas have been under utilised as foreign investors remain leery of Chinese equities and possible depreciation in the yuan's exchange rate if the U.S. should wind up its monetary easing programme prematurely. Less than half of the total available RQFII quota has been taken up so far. ($1 = 6.1374 Chinese yuan) (Reporting by Lu Jianxin and Pete Sweeney; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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