The London Stock Exchange said on Friday it had opened a representative office in Beijing, following its US rivals into China in a race to attract listings by companies hungry for foreign capital.
The LSE, the top exchange for initial public offerings last year, lists 68 Chinese companies, but only six on its main board, which has not seen a mainland Chinese IPO in over three years.
A London listing offers Chinese firms access to European capital, and lower listing, merger and legal costs than in the United States, LSE Chief Executive Clara Furse said.
"We are the gateway to the Eurozone," Furse told reporters on a trip to Beijing that coincided with the arrival in China of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
"For Chinese companies or any company that wants to be global and access Europe, London is the place to be," she said.
Two of the LSE's main rivals, the New York Stock Exchange, a unit of NYSE Euronext, and The Nasdaq Stock Market Inc opened offices in Beijing late last year.
Chinese companies raised $117.7 billion last year on global equity markets, second only to U.S. firms, according to Thomson Financial, mostly in Hong Kong and Shanghai.
With Beijing clamping down on loan growth to cool the world's fourth biggest economy, the IPO pipeline for capital-hungry Chinese firms is still strong, bankers say, and stock exchanges are looking to cash in on the trend.
The LSE was host to $39.6 billion of initial public share offerings last year, leading all global exchanges and beating the $34.6 billion of IPOs on the NYSE, Thomson Financial has reported. (Reuters)
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