UPDATE 1-Shenzhen exchange explores stock pipeline with Hong Kong -official

Wed Aug 27, 2014 4:18am EDT

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(Adds official comments, context)

By Michelle Chen

HONG KONG Aug 27 (Reuters) - Shenzhen is studying a plan to connect its stock exchange with Hong Kong's stock market, similar to the scheme planned for Shanghai, and hopes it can be launched as soon as possible, a government official said on Wednesday.

"The Shenzhen government has raised this suggestion to the China Securities Regulatory Commission and the CSRC's opinion is that we can do some research on the Shenzhen-Hong Kong stock connect plan," Xiao Zhijia, deputy director-general of Shenzhen's Office of Financial Development Services, told Reuters by telephone.

The plan will then need to be discussed with Hong Kong's stock exchange and the city's regulators following which China's regulators will then decide when to launch a similar scheme between Shenzhen and Hong Kong, he said.

He declined to give a specific time frame for the launch saying it depended on the success of the Hong Kong-Shanghai scheme.

"It is quite flexible and the power of decision is in the CSRC's hands," he said.

The Shenzhen stock exchange, a rival to Shanghai's market, looks to emulate the Nasdaq in the United States by focusing on companies in their early growth stages. It also has some big-name listings, including China Vanke, the country's biggest residential property developer.

Shenzhen stocks, in particular those on the ChiNext board, have consistently outperformed the Shanghai Exchange which has concentrated on listing large-cap blue chip firms in recent years.

A foreign fund manager, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that he believed foreign investors would be far more enthusiastic about investing in Shenzhen companies, which tend to feature more technology and consumer names.

These stocks represent the future of China's economy rather than the blue-chip banks, insurers, and other state-owned giants that dominate Shanghai's index, according to some investors.

Authorities expect the landmark stock-connect programme between Shanghai and Hong Kong - another step in China's efforts to open up its markets - will launch in October. Regulators and market participants are racing to test mechanisms to ensure readiness.

While China investors anticipate a wave of institutional money will flow into the mainland's relatively undervalued markets, Hong Kong stock punters are hoping Chinese money will boost trading volumes and lift stocks.

The Shanghai Composite Index rose to eight-month highs last week, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index reached a more than six-year high this week as investors hailed the latest development as a catalyst for further market gains.

A Shenzhen-Hong Kong connection hinges on the success of the Shanghai-Hong Kong link, an analyst told Reuters, who expected such a scheme to be launched in the first quarter of 2015 at the earliest. (Additional reporting by Grace Li and Saikat Chatterjee in HONG KONG and Pete Sweeney in BEIJING; Editing by Richard Borsuk and Jacqueline Wong)

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