Small is lovely. Former Hong Kong stock exchange Chief Executive Charles Li, a driving force behind the enormously successful bilateral Stock Connect project between mainland Chinese bourses and Hong Kong, is launching an asset exchange in Macau. Micro Connect, which he created in Hong Kong last year, allows foreign investors to purchase “equity-like instruments” to finance Chinese firms in exchange for a part of daily earnings. The effort, which was announced on Monday, is aimed especially at offline businesses and retail owners.
Micro Connect, on the other hand, has invested in 1,800 small enterprises. The Chongwa Financial Asset Exchange for bonds, launched in 2018, is the sole other exchange in the territory. A yuan-based stock exchange has yet to materialise. Macau, which, like Hong Kong, is outside of China’s capital regulations, may aspire to compete with its neighbour, but it has a long way to go.
Given Li’s experience running Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing’s HK$26 trillion ($3.35 trillion) securities market, his appointment is a coup for Macau, which is increasingly desperate to diversify its economy beyond gambling. Casino revenue is down 85% this year compared to last.
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