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Thursday, 13 March 2014

DBS riding high in offshore yuan bond market

Published: March 13, 4:12 AM

SINGAPORE — DBS is shaping up to be one of the biggest players in the burgeoning offshore yuan bond market, joining the ranks of top global banks as its issuances in the Chinese currency continue to climb.

In the first two months of the year, offshore yuan bonds issued by DBS totalled around 9.97 billion yuan (S$2.06 billion), or 9.3 per cent of the overall market, exceeding the 8.59 billion yuan tallied in the whole of last year.
“From 2012, when we were 20th in the league table, we halved that last year to 10th, and as of the end of last month, we’ve moved up to the top three,” DBS’ Head of Fixed Income Clifford Lee said during a press briefing yesterday. This means it is behind only Standard Chartered Bank and HSBC Bank.

“We’re cognisant that (the ranking) will move around, but we’ll want to be rated around top five to top 10,” he said. “The fact that the market is open enough for us to participate and move up the ranks is encouraging for us.”

Among the key deals led by DBS this year was the sale of China Eastern Airlines’ three-year, 2.5 billion yuan bonds last week. The bank — South-east Asia’s biggest by capital — was also the sole bookrunner for Peking University Founder Group’s two billion yuan bonds issued in January.

The rapid rise of DBS in the sector reflects Singapore’s growing status as an offshore yuan hub, amid active moves by the Chinese government to internationalise its currency.

Last February, the local branch of Industrial and Commercial Bank of China was appointed by the Chinese authorities as the yuan clearing bank here, putting Singapore on the same footing as Hong Kong and Taiwan.

However, Singapore has a long way to go before catching up with Hong Kong, where yuan deposits, which is one indicator of market depth, stand at around 893 billion yuan compared with 142 billion yuan here.

Mr Lee is, however, confident about Singapore’s future in the yuan game — not in replacing Hong Kong, but in filling the gaps in the bond market.

“Singapore can continue to broaden its sphere of engagement for yuan, because so far the activities in Hong Kong have very much been surrounding Greater China,” he said. “The rest of the participation, from South-east Asia, for instance, is still very limited.”

“The relevance of Singapore in this whole scheme of things is to bring in new investors and new issuers. We’re starting to see traction there,” he said, adding that Singapore can be a facilitator of investments from South-east Asia. WONG WEI HAN


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