The db X-trackers Harvest CSI 300 China A-Shares Fund (NYSEArca: ASHR) debuted Wednesday, becoming the first U.S.-listed exchange traded fund to offer investors direct access to China’s previously hard-to-access A-shares market and some market observers already see the potential in A-shares ETF offerings.
“There are a lot more domestic companies that are listed in the A-shares market that we as foreign investors cannot touch,” David Poh, the regional head of portfolio-management solutions at Societe Generale’s private bank, said in an interview with Bloomberg’s Weiyi Lim.
Currently, China limits foreign investors’ access to A-shares, which trade in Shanghai and Shenzhen, to Qualified Foreign Institutional Investors and Renminbi Qualified Foreign Institutional Investors. However, the world’s second-largest economy is looking to increase foreign investment after seeing its mainland equity markets stumble over the past several years despite compelling valuations. [China Paves Way for More A-Shares ETFs]
On a percentage basis, foreign ownership of China’s domestic market is scant. Even when including stocks listed in foreign markets, the level is just 11.4%, according to Deutsche Bank data. That is less than half the levels seen in Japan, Taiwan and Mexico and barely more than a quarter of the foreign ownership of U.K. equities. [DB’s A-Shares ETF Officially Debuts]
In reference to companies listed in Shanghai and Shenzhen, China’s A-shares markets, Poh told Bloomberg, “Some of them are really good companies listed in Shanghai and Shenzhen that are not listed in Hong Kong.”