Caixin
Dec 02, 2020 04:00 AM
FINANCE

HKEX Launches Platform to Promote Disclosure on Green Bonds

Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd.’s STAGE platform initially features 29 sustainable-themed products from 10 issuers.
Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd.’s STAGE platform initially features 29 sustainable-themed products from 10 issuers.

Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd. (HKEX) launched its Sustainable and Green Exchange (STAGE) Thursday as Asia’s first multi-asset sustainable investment product platform, supporting fast-growing global demand for sustainable finance.

The STAGE platform currently is only an online product repository, providing information on issuers’ sustainable investment products, rather than an exchange where such products are traded.

“STAGE will connect market participants, issuers and investors, providing a one-stop shop for reliable green data and products, helping to drive growth potential, transparency and access to Asia’s exciting green and sustainable financial market,” said Wilfred Yiu, HKEX’s head of markets.

The launch of the platform will support the Hong Kong government’s commitment for the city to become the green finance hub of the Greater Bay Area, an ambitious national plan promoted by Beijing aimed at developing Hong Kong, Macao and nine cities in Guangdong province into an integrated technology, business and finance hub by 2030.

Globally, more than $30 trillion are invested in the sustainable finance market, but less than 1% of that is in Asia. Hong Kong’s green bond cumulative volume reached a record $26 billion last year, driven by a jump in issuances from China, according to the research unit of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA).

As of the end of September, 59 sustainable and green bonds from 32 issuers, as well as two environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG)-related exchange-traded funds (ETFs), were listed on the HKEX.

Issuers with products that meet international standards or principles and provide post-issuance reports annually are invited to join STAGE to display their products. So far the platform features 29 sustainable-themed products from 10 issuers, including four Chinese mainland issuers and six Hong Kong issuers.

The four mainland companies are Shanghai-based property developer CIFI Holdings (Group) Co. Ltd., state-owned banks China Construction Bank Corp. and Bank of China, and Industrial Bank Co. Ltd.

The HKEX invited the 32 issuers to join the STAGE platform, but some chose not to do so for now because their bonds are about to mature, or some issuers are not fully prepared to meet disclosure requirements or are concerned about the cost of disclosure, said Grace Hui, HKEX’s head of green and sustainable finance.

Issuers included on STAGE must provide additional voluntary disclosures on sustainable investment products, such as reports on the use of proceeds, as well as annual post-issuance reports, the HKEX said.

Hui said the HKEX is actively encouraging all regional issuers of green and sustainable products to consider application for inclusion on STAGE, including non-Hong Kong-listed products such as some mainland-listed ESG-related bonds that have been included in the bond connect, a market access system that allows investors from mainland China and overseas to trade in each other’s respective bond markets.

Contact reporter Denise Jia (huijuanjia@caixin.com) and editor Bob Simison (bobsimison@caixin.com).

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