Regulators in China have broadened a pilot plan that allows banks to bundle loans into tradable securities, opening access to foreign banks, Reuters reported Tuesday.
Policymakers see expanding access to credit-based assets as a means of shielding China’s banking system from risk as loan defaults increase in frequency. Meanwhile investors, tired of the tepid stock market, need a new investment opportunity.
The People’s Bank of China, the country’s central bank, first launched a pilot program to market packages of loans into bond-like securities called collateralized loan obligations (CLO) in 2005. Since then, about 90 billion yuan ($14.77 billion) worth of CLO products have been issued in China’s interbank market.
The program is open to all of the 42 foreign banks with locally incorporated branches in China, which includes HSBC Holdings PLC (NYSE: HBC), Standard Chartered PLC (STAN.L) and Citigroup Inc. (NYSE: C).
Foreign banks controlled a paltry 1.9 percent of banking assets in China, according to PriceWaterhouseCooper, which means they have only a small pool of loans available to create the new securities.