The term “dim sum bond” refers to a bond which issued in Hong Kong that is denominated in Chinese yuan (renminbi) rather than the local currency. The first dim sum bond was issued by China Development Bank in July 2007. Due to the tight controls over capital markets by the Chinese Government, foreign investors have, until recently, not been able to have a taste of the dim sum bond, and before July 2010, only certain Chinese mainland and Hong Kong banks could issue renminbi-denominated bonds.
However, that’s been the story so far. Dim sum bonds are gaining popularity and gradually becoming a mainstream means of investment in Chinese currency in the offshore financial markets. In times when everyone is struggling with the financial crisis, China has decided to take this opportunity to loosen the tight control over its capital markets and speed up the yuan’s liberalisation. The development of offshore dim sum bonds is a significant result of this decision. HSBC issued the first offshore bond (valued at 2 billion yuan ($300 million)) in April 2012, which was listed on the London Stock Exchange. In August 2012, the ANZ Banking Group also issued a 1 billion yuan three-year dim sum bond.
During China’s 18th Party Congress in November 2012, the Chinese government stated that there would be no change to China’s long-term goal to internationalise its currency. That is certainly good news for the markets. Investors are becoming more confident that regulators will offer easier access to offshore yuan funds in the near future, which is triggering a boom in the dim sum bond market in Hong Kong. So far, in November alone, six dim sum bonds were issued worth a combined $609 million (including the Volvo AB VOLV and Caterpillar Inc bond issues, each of which were 1 billion yuan ($160.2 million) issuances, and India’s ICICI Bank Ltd 500 million yuan dim sum bond).
Most recently, China Construction Bank, the country’s second-largest bank, has announced that it will issue its first dim sum bond in London in December to increase international use of the Chinese currency. It will be the first time a Chinese bank has issued an offshore yuan bond.
The rise of the “dim sum bond” is just around the corner and investors can now get it “to go” here in London. So, are you ready to order some “dim sum”?