Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEX). [Photo/VCG]
HONG KONG - Asia's very first exchange-traded fund (ETF) tracking shares listed in Saudi Arabia debuted in Hong Kong on Wednesday, marking another step for the financial hub to deepen ties with the Middle East.
The ETF allows investors in Hong Kong to trade Saudi stocks including the oil giant Saudi Aramco either in Hong Kong dollars or Chinese yuan. It is managed by Hong Kong-based CSOP Asset Management and includes Saudi sovereign wealth fund, Public Investment Fund (PIF), as an anchor investor.
Paul Chan, financial secretary of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government, said at the listing ceremony that the launch of the ETF is a milestone in Hong Kong's financial cooperation with Saudi Arabia and no less a landmark of financial connectivity along the Belt and Road.
"Today's ETF launch does much more than adding to our financial products. It tells investors that we are determined to create innovative new ways to cooperate, to realize mutually rewarding opportunities, with Saudi Arabia and the Middle East," he said.
Hong Kong has been stepping up collaboration with the Middle East, especially on the financial front.
The Hong Kong Monetary Authority and the Saudi Central Bank have signed a memorandum of understanding to promote joint deliberations in financial innovation, while the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEX) in September added the Saudi Exchange as a recognized stock exchange, allowing companies with a primary listing on the Saudi Exchange's main market to apply for a secondary listing in Hong Kong.
Yazeed Al-Humied, deputy governor of the PIF, said Hong Kong has one of the most mature financial ecosystems in the world, and is considered by many investors and companies as a financial gateway.
"That's why we established our office here back in February last year, believing in the importance of this region to the global financial sector," he said.
HKEX Chief Executive Officer Nicolas Aguzin said Saudi Arabia is pushing an ambitious and impressive program to transform its economy, and the ETF offers investors in Asia a transparent, convenient and low-cost investment tool to gain exposure to this transformation.