An agreement has been reached that will see Swiss bank affiliate UBS Securities purchase a controlling share in Shanghai Pumin Futures Brokerage. The move will see the bank gain access to the Chinese financial futures market, currently a thriving financial arena.
UBS said that it had gained approval from regulators for the purchase, which will see it obtain a stake of 95.42% in the brokerage firm. They will be investing roughly US$14.8 million into the firm, which is taken as a sign of their commitment to their newly-obtained business interest. According to sources close to the organisation, Shanghai Pumin will continue operations under its current name after the purchase.
The Chinese financial futures market is currently thriving, and it is a market the government is actively encouraging. The recently-issued Third Plenum statement from Chinese leaders stated the government’s intention to encourage greater innovation amongst China’s financial markets. It also indicated that they wish to turn the financial futures market into the country into a multi-layered one and expand the range of products on offer.
The first futures product in China was introduced in April 2010. According to the Hushen 300 Index, which is used as a benchmark for Shanghai and Shenzhen shares tracking, the country’s financial futures market has grown significantly since this time. The volume of trading in China’s financial futures market reached levels of CN¥141 trillion last year, including 5-year treasury bonds. Overall, these now account for almost 53% of total trading in futures products that takes place in China, according to UBS. This includes Chinese commodities futures, which have been available for longer.
It is possible to for securities firms such as UBS to access the financial futures market in China by directly applying for a licence. However, this process can be lengthy and complicated. Acquiring a futures broker that is already in possession of a licence, as UBS Securities have now done, can be an easier process for companies that have the funds and opportunity to do so.
Other companies that currently hold such a licence include notable players Haitong Securities, Citic Securities, and Guotai Junan Securities. UBS Securities will now be competing in this market. Given their well-established position in other markets and the extensive backing this brings as well as the scale of their investment, it is likely they will be giving this market a lot of attention and will be in with a strong chance of becoming one of the major players themselves.
The Republic of Philippines is making the most of investment grade status. The country has raised a senior ten year unsecured note with a value of US$1.5 billion. This is the third time in a week that a sovereign has struck at global debt markets, and the first dollar note raised by the Philippines in two years.
The transaction was also the first “accelerated switch tender” to take place in the entire continent of Asia. This type of transaction, which is common in the West but previously unseen in Asian markets, involves an offer from the issuer to buy existing bonds back at a set price and then replace them with the new issue. The transaction offers several benefits, not least of which is speed. It can usually be carried out within the day, while more traditional outright tenders usually take anything from five to ten days.
The decision to execute the transaction in this manner was made to better benefit the Philippine’s liability management program, and many experts believe that it may lead to more transactions of this type taking place in the future.
The accelerated switch tender transaction is obviously beneficial to investors, as it provides them with an opportunity to make an easy sale of their existing holdings. However, it also benefits the issuer by creating significantly more demand for the untendered cash portion and cutting down funding costs.
The intraday speed of the transaction is also beneficial to both issuers and investors. Demand is higher because the speed motivates investors to take part. This is not just down to convenience but also to the fact that the risks posed by interest rates and market forces are significantly reduced by the shorter timeframe.
Notes tendered as part of the transaction equated to around US$1 billion. The rest of the transaction went into new cash accounts.
The transaction was made possible thanks to the Philippines’ relatively recent acquisition of investment grade ratings. The country’s first investment grade rating was granted by Fitch in March 2013. In May of the same year, Standard & Poor did likewise, and they were followed in October by Moody’s Investors Service. Since then, the Philippines has been actively courting investment in a number of ways.
Currently, the country’s latest bond issue is trading well. Orders from approximately 500 investors poured in upon its being offered up, totalling a value of roughly US$13.5 billion. Investors from the US got the largest share of notes, accounting for 53% of the total. 28% went to Asian investors and 19% to Europeans.
India’s central bank has released an unexpected announcement that it will not change the policy interest rate in a bid to support growth. However, as consumer prices continue to rise faster than in any other Asian country, the bank also promised to intervene if inflation does not begin to tail off.
According to a Bloomberg survey, the majority of analysts expected the rate to increase from its current level of 7.75% to 8%. Of 31 analysts surveyed, only five predicted that the rate would remain stable.
The expectation of an increase was perhaps an understandable prediction. Since taking charge just a few months ago, the bank’s current governor Raghuram Rajan has been noted for his increases to interest rates. Overall, he has increased the rate by 50 basis points in his tenure so far as governor of the Reserve Bank.
Rajan described the move as being “on hold” and “waiting for more data.” He expressed the opinion that the current high rate of inflation may be temporary, and said that the bank would not react to every spike in the rate. However, he also issued reassurances that if this spike does not prove temporary when the next round of data is released, the bank will revise their position. He described the bank as “vigilant” in looking out for this possibility, and said that action may take place on off-policy dates, depending on the situation.
With rising prices putting increasing pressure on companies and consumers alike, there is no doubt that inflation in India is too high. However, it is also true to say that growth in the country is very low. This reached a four year low recently, only beginning to pick up again last quarter. This no doubt feeds into Rajan’s decision to emphasise support for growth at present in the hope that inflation will prove temporary.
“Clearly growth is weaker than we would like, inflation is higher than we would like,” said Rajan in a statement. “It would be wonderful if we had the normal situation of extremely high growth and high inflation and extremely low growth and low inflation, in which case policy is very easy.”
The fact that this is not the case has forced the bank to make a decision between aiming their policies at growth or prices. In defending the decision they came to, they pointed to indications that vegetable prices may be about to drop, alongside an increasingly stable exchange rate and the promise of lag effects from previous increases.