An ambitious plan to list stocks with a combined market capitalisation of more than $1,000bn on a single southeast Asian board was given a boost as a sixth stock exchange signed up.
Vietnam’s Hochiminh Stock Exchange said it was to commit “deeply and comprehensively” to the project, which also includes the Indonesian, Thai, Philippine, Malaysian and Singapore exchanges.
The six exchanges, all located within the 10-country Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), plan to start by listing 30 stocks each on a single trading screen, to be known as the Asean bulletin board.
The board would route orders from brokers directly to the local exchanges. People close to the project said the six stock markets were discussing whether the bulletin board could be launched before the end of the year. The ultimate objective is to list all stocks quoted on the six exchanges, setting up a single point of access for investors and issuers. At the close,the market capitalisation of stocks quoted on the six exchanges was more than $1,100bn.
Yusli Mohamed Yusoff, chief executive of the Malaysian stock exchange, said the project would “elevate the Asean exchanges as a group by combining the respective markets’ economic and financial strengths”.
However, the exchanges must overcome substantial hurdles before they would be able to achieve full integration. These include technical issues such as the incompatibility of some of the existing trading systems, setting up central clearing and settlement arrangements, and how to handle transactions in six currencies.
Mr Yusli said the exchanges were “working on the technical infrastructure and logistics of the e-trading linkage, but this will take some time”.
He said the currency settlement for cross trades would follow “home settlement rules”, so that, for example, the Malaysian ringgit would be used if trades were settled in Malaysia. The same rule would apply to regulatory requirements.
Another person close to the project said: “The plan is proceeding, but obviously a lot of discussions still have to take place about technical and regulatory issues, and how to harmonise the exchanges.”
The project has the backing of both Asean and the Asian Development Bank, which sees it as a way to raise the profile of regional stocks and to promote Asean securities as a distinct asset class.
ADB officials, who are working with the exchanges on technical and regulatory issues, say the Asean exchanges are individually too small to attract global attention, but could be globally competitive if they were to achieve greater scale and liquidity.
NYSE Euronext, the transatlantic exchange, is among exchanges vying to provide trading technology for the Asean project. The group already provides trading systems to the Philippine stock exchange and Bursa Malaysia.
The cross border trading initiative follows an agreement by Asean capital markets regulators on a “road map” for full integration of the region’s capital markets by 2015.
Additional reporting by Jeremy Grant in London and Xi Chen in Hong Kong
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