Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) has rolled into Hong Kong, opening its new Asia-Pacific headquarters in the SAR on the back of expanded products offerings, its proximity to China business opportunities and its self-proclaimed increasing focus on Asia. The opening is also timely for CME as it has announced plans to list new futures contracts and options on futures on the renminbi against the dollar, euro and yen and a new Korean won product.

CMEÆs increased focus on Asia comes as derivatives have heated up in the region, far outpacing the growth in more mature markets and providing the exchange with many new business opportunities. The unveiling also follows its recent launch of its futures contract based on the fifty largest stocks traded in Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore and Taiwan.

ôAccording to the Bank of International Settlements (BIS), financial markets in China, India and the Asia-Pacific Region are growing at an extremely rapid rate,ö says CME CEO Craig Donohue. ôFor example, between 1998 and 2004, exchange-traded derivatives grew at a compounded annual growth rate of 69% in Asia, compared to 29% rate in North America,ö

The Hong Kong operation will be lead by CF Wong, CMEÆs managing director, products and services, Asia and is the exchangeÆs latest office in Asia, which already includes sites in Tokyo and Sydney and a telecommunications hub in Singapore. Working closely with Wong is Johannes Zhou, director, Asian business development, and Yoshio Kuno, director, CME Asia and Nicholas Bolton, who is also a director.

Prior to joining CME, Wong was a managing director for Octagon Advisors, in which capacity he served as an advisor to banks in Singapore and China. His resume also includes time at UOB Group where he was executive vice president of its high net worth banking arm. Wong has also served as managing director of UOB Bullion and Futures.

Wong has also held the titles of chief executive officer and managing director of ABN AMRO Asia Futures and has worked for NatWest Futures Asia and HSBC Futures Asia after beginning his career at the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

ôAs the most diverse financial exchange in the world, CME offers futures and options on future products in every major asset class,ö say Wong. æAs we continue to expand our reach, Asia, in particular, is an increasingly important market for potential growth.ö

ôWhile we have had a presence in Asia-Pacific for some time, we felt now was the right time to expand our reach by establishing a new regional headquarters in Hong Kong to facilitate further expansion of our product offerings and increased level of service to our Asian-based customers. Hong Kong was the clear choice of location due to its close relationship with Mainland China, its role as the regional financial hub, and its infrastructure and communications links with the region.ö

The links between Hong Kong and China are evidently one of the main drivers for CME establishing a new office in the SAR, especially given its new product launches. Correlating with the opening, CME has announced plans to list several new contracts with a distinctively China-feel to them.

Trading exclusively on its CME Globex electronic trading platform, the exchange plans to list a CME Chinese renminbi futures contract, CME Chinese renminbi/euro futures contract and CME Chinese Renminbi/Japanese yen futures contract, as well as options on these futures.

According to CME, the new products are expected to begin trading on August 27 for the trade date a day later. CME is also planning to list a futures and options of futures on the Korean won, which has worked on in cooperation with the Korean Ministry of Finance and Economy (MOFE) in mid-September.

CME has also signed memorandum of understandings with the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, Dalian Commodity Exchange and Zhengzhou Commodity Exchange and in September 2005, hosted the China Financial Derivatives Forum in partnership with Shanghai Futures Exchange and Shanghai Stock Exchange.