By Anshuman Daga
SINGAPORE (Reuters) - A Hong Kong listing by Saudi Aramco would help the oil giant secure huge Chinese demand for its $100 bln share sale, said the head of Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing (HKEX) on Wednesday, as the world's leading stock exchanges pitch for the business.
Saudi Aramco said in October that exchanges such as New York, London, Tokyo, and Hong Kong have all been looked at for the partial listing of the state company's shares.
"It's going to provide compelling benefit because they are able to use the listing to anchor very massive Chinese demand at the IPO," Charles Li told Reuters in an interview in Singapore, where HKEX opened its first overseas office.
"It will become a great platform for the two major sovereigns to use as a potential platform for a broader level of financial or strategic investment decisions," Li added, referring to China and Saudi Arabia.
"It is a compelling case that they are unlikely to ignore but they also have many other factors in the decision process," he said, declining to share details of Aramco's feedback.
Li also said that he expects companies with dual class shares to be listed on Hong Kong's main board.
"We should basically in a few weeks, hopefully be able to announce a structure where we will have a chapter inside the main board that allows companies to list in Hong Kong, with weighted voting rights structures."
The Asian financial hub's exchange operator is looking to attract more new economy companies in order to remain a global listings powerhouse.Hong Kong was the world's biggest initial public offering (IPO) venue in 2016 but has been struggling to attract new companies this year, with the bulk of those listing from property and financial sectors.HKEX <0388.HK> had unveiled a proposal in June for a new board that would allow companies with share structures providing special voting rights, and those yet to make a profit, to list.Li said Hong Kong's financial secretary had indicated that Hong Kong was likely to take in applications under the new voting structure in the second half of next year."We are coming to a general agreement that this is the direction to go and we are ready to go," he said.Competition is heating up. In Singapore, the exchange's new regulatory unit is considering introducing dual class shares listing on SGX <SGXL.SI> but is yet to take a decision, months after a key advisory panel recommended the move.
(Reporting by Anshuman Daga; Editing by Jason Neely and Elaine Hardcastle)