The New York Stock Exchange is working with China to launch the country's international board that will allow foreign firms to list on the mainland, in a move seen as a crucial step in developing its capital markets.
Chinese officials have yet to provide details of the international board, seen as a centrepiece in Shanghai's attempt to become an international financial center by 2020, though they have said it could be launched later this year.
NYSE Euronext Chairman Jan-Michiel Hessels said his exchange was working with Chinese authorities on the board and his company would be strongly interested in listing on it.
We are strongly interested. As an even stronger leading stock exchange we feel we should be listed on the international board, he told Reuters on the sidelines of a financial conference in Shanghai.
It's up to the authorities to see if we are still the favorite candidate.
HSBC , Unilever and Standard Chartered Plc have said they want to list on the international board, which was originally slated to be launched in 2010.
Hessels also said the bourse was working with Chinese authorities in helping develop a derivatives market.
China has been taking various steps, including the planned launch of the international board, aimed at developing the country's capital markets and building Shanghai into a global financial center on par with the likes of New York and London.
Speaking at the same conference, China's central bank governor said the increased use of the yuan in trade and investment settlement will pave the way for the currency to become fully convertible, although the process will be gradual.
Zhou Xiaochuan did not offer any time frame.
Beijing has been trying to boost the global clout of its currency by promoting the use of the yuan in foreign trade, investment settlement and signing bilateral currency swaps with other countries.
The yuan is widely expected to eventually become a major world reserve currency, along with the dollar and euro. Analysts say for that to happen, however, China would need to make the yuan fully convertible, and the government has given no clear indication of when that might happen.
When there is a certain amount of cross-border use of the yuan, there will be a natural demand that the yuan will move toward full convertibility in a gradual and orderly manner, Zhou told the Lujiazui forum, an annual gathering of Chinese officials and executives in Shanghai.
The cross-border use of the yuan, at the initial stage, means the use of yuan in trade and investment activities. Meanwhile, we also allow the yuan to be used in financial deals in a cautious and prudent manner, Zhou said.
K. C. Chan, Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury of Hong Kong, urged Beijing to deregulate its market more quickly to allow easier flows of the Chinese currency across the border.
China also said offshore yuan funds should be allowed to flow in and out of the mainland capital markets more easily, which would also help promote Shanghai's global status.
A channel for offshore yuan to flow back to the mainland market will help develop Shanghai to become an international financial center, he told reporters on the sidelines of the conference.
Zhou made headlines in March 2009 by proposing to replace the dollar eventually as the world's main reserve currency with a beefed-up version of the Special Drawing Rights (SDR), the International Monetary Fund's accounting unit.
The idea is considered premature by some, but Zhou has spearheaded a programme to boost the use of the yuan in trade and investment to ensure the currency becomes a major component of the SDR.
(Additional reporting by Zhou Xin and Kevin Yao in Beijing; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)