BEIJING, Jan. 5 (Xinhua) -- The World Bank's first yuan-denominated bond offered investors the chance to diversify their currency holdings and promotes the internationalization of the Chinese currency, the yuan, or RMB, economists said.
The World Bank China Office said Wednesday the World Bank has priced 500 million yuan (76 million U.S. dollars) of RMB-denominated fixed-rate two-year bonds with a coupon of 0.95 percent in Hong Kong.
The bonds' settlement date is Jan. 14. They mature on Jan. 14, 2013. Interest on the bonds is paid semi-annually. HSBC was the bookrunner for the sale.
The sale was the first RMB-bond issuance in Hong Kong this year, a World Bank statement said.
"If yuan-bond issuance goes well, it will build trust between investors and the yuan currency. It will also promote the recognition of the RMB at the regional and international levels," Zhuang Jian, a senior Asian Development Bank economist said.
The issuance comes as China's shareholding in the World Bank is set to increase, after the realignment of voting shares announced last year.
World Bank member countries reached an agreement last April to give more voting power to developing nations. Under the agreement, China's voting power will increase to 4.42 percent from 2.77 percent.
Doris Herrera-Pol, global head of Capital Markets at the World Bank, said the World Bank's RMB-bond signals the World Bank's interest in supporting the development of the RMB market.
"It is a privilege for us to have this opportunity that establishes the institution as a premier issuer in the fastest growing capital market in the world," Doris said.
Anita Fung, Head of the Global Banking and Markets with HSBC Asia-Pacific, said Hong Kong continues to develop as an offshore RMB center.
In a significant step towards internationalizing the Chinese currency, China's central bank announced last month a dramatic expansion of its pilot program for cross-border yuan trade settlement to 67,359 domestic exporters from the original 365 firms.
The pilot program, first announced last April by China's State Council, the Cabinet, allowed only exporters in Shanghai and four cities in the Pearl River Delta bordering Hong Kong -- Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai and Dongguan -- to settle cross-border trade deals in yuan.
Two months later, the central bank further expanded the trial scheme to 20 regions from the original five cities.