China is trying to boost its global dominance by opening a major exchange in the US that it said will allow US investors to trade more freely, while also boosting its market share.
The People’s Bank of China said on Monday it had bought the futures exchange Huobi for about US$1.2bn, marking the biggest investment by a state bank in a US-listed firm.
The state-owned bank is the world’s biggest exchange for trading stocks and bonds, and is one of the worlds biggest market participants in China’s securities market.
The Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSE) is one the most valuable and fastest-growing exchanges in the world, and has a market capitalisation of more than US$3.5tn.
It has been the subject of fierce lobbying by China’s state-controlled media and analysts, who have argued that the SSE’s share price is overvalued, with the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index falling more than 5 per cent this year.
The SSE, which has a trading volume of more then 20bn yuan ($1.4bn), is currently trading at a market value of about $1,300 a share, compared to a price of around $800 in October, according to Bloomberg data.
Huobi is the biggest exchange in China for US-registered equities, with more than one in five market-trading volumes.
“Our mission is to become a global trading platform that enables Chinese companies to trade freely and efficiently across all the world markets,” Huobi said in a statement on Monday.
“This is why we have decided to enter into an exclusive arrangement with the Sse, which will enable us to offer our products to the global market.”
The Sse is an investment arm of the state-run China Development Bank (CDB).
It was established in 2007 by President Xi Jinping as a “strategic and operational instrument” to support the Chinese economy and promote growth.
The CDB has a $20tn-plus market cap and is also the biggest financial institution in the country.
It is one among many China-based exchanges in which the government has been investing, as part of an effort to modernise and boost access to financial services for the Chinese.
But critics say the government’s financial interventions have often created unnecessary risks for China’s economy.
Last month, for instance, the government said it would not allow US-based ETFs, such as the S&P 500, to be traded in the SBE’s stock exchange.
It has also banned foreign-listed shares from entering its stock exchange until it has finished building a more efficient system for regulating foreign investment.