Last week we noted the very significant activity by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority as it bought USDollars in size to support its peg. It appears we have found at least one smoking gun for why they were forced to do this. In what appears to be another sanctions-blowback, Russian oligarchs are de-dollarizing their cash holdings and shifting to Hong Kong Dollars. As Bloomberg reports, various Russian entities are shifting up to 40% of their cash to HKD. “Keeping money in Hong Kong dollars is essentially equivalent to keeping it in U.S. dollars because of the currency peg," notes BofA's Vladimir Osakovskiy, adding "for Russian companies it’s still much safer from the standpoint of sanctions."
OAO MegaFon (MFON), billionaire Alisher Usmanov’s wireless operator, said it has been shifting cash holdings into Hong Kong dollars, a move people say metals producer OAO GMK Norilsk Nickel (GMKN) is also undertaking, as the U.S. and Europe ratchet up sanctions against Russia.
MegaFon decided to keep about 40 percent of its cash in Hong Kong dollars given the global markets disturbances, Chief Financial Officer Gevork Vermishyan said in a phone interview. The Moscow-based carrier has traditionally kept its foreign cash in U.S. dollars and euros, according to the company.
Norilsk Nickel, the world’s largest producer of nickel and palladium, is also keeping some of its cash in Hong Kong dollars now, two people with knowledge of situation said, asking not to be identified as information isn’t public.
The Hong Kong dollar has been linked to the U.S. dollar since 1983, and its fluctuation from the American currency hasn’t exceeded 1 percentage points since then...
“Keeping money in Hong Kong dollars is essentially equivalent to keeping it in U.S. dollars because of the currency peg,” said Vladimir Osakovskiy, chief economist of Bank of America Corp.’s Russian unit. “Still, for Russian companies it’s much safer from the standpoint of sanctions.”
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One more chip in the US Dollar's global hegemony armor...