Last rites called for B shares

Despite B shares'' spectacular performance of late, their very future is in doubt.

China's B shares are back in the headlines. The B-share indices in Shanghai and Shenzhen have soared to record highs in the past month on the back of growing speculation about market reforms. The rumour mill contends that China's B-share markets will be opened to mainlanders, through joint-venture mutual funds A-share and B-share markets will merge and the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges are set to combine. But some fund managers believe B shares' days are numbered.

B shares, or foreigner-only stocks, are designed to raise foreign investment for cash-strapped Chinese firms locals are only permitted to trade A shares. But according to China Securities, a mainland newspaper, more than two-thirds of all...

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