London's Baltic and China's Ningbo exchanges in container link

By Jonathan Saul

LONDON, Oct (HKSE: 3366-OL.HK - news) 23 (Reuters) - London's Baltic Exchange and Chinese state-owned Ningbo Shipping Exchange said on Friday they would collaborate on container indices, the first foray by the Baltic into this segment of the freight market.

Sources told Reuters in early October that the London Metal Exchange, which is owned by Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing , had made an informal approach to the Baltic to acquire it.

In a first step, Ningbo's weekly containerised freight index - which tracks rates on various routes - would be published on the Baltic's website, the exchanges said.

A Baltic spokesman said it would work with Ningbo to do "more in the container space".

Baltic chief executive Jeremy Penn said separately the move underlined its "ever-closer ties with the Chinese market".

The Baltic's move is part of efforts by Western firms to get involved in China's "One Belt, One Road", initiative, which seeks to create an economic belt of railways, highways, oil and gas pipelines, power grids and other links across Central, West and South Asia.

Until now, the privately-owned Baltic, the hub of global shipping since its founding in 1744, has published data related to the dry bulk and oil tanker markets, including the benchmark BDI main sea freight index.

The Baltic's daily benchmark rates and indices are used to trade and settle freight contracts as well as providing data used in the freight derivatives market.

Ningbo, in the eastern Chinese province of Zhejiang, is one of the world's top ports handling over 20 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) annually.

Ningbo Shipping Exchange, established in 2011 and sponsored by the Ningbo municipal government, provides data. It (Other OTC: ITGL - news) launched its container index in September 2013.

Ningbo's general manager Dong Shanhua said it aimed to boost the presence of its products globally via the Baltic collaboration.

Penn, who will step down in 2016 after more than 12 years running the institution, told Reuters in June the Baltic was studying a potential foray into commodities and was open to proposals on tie-ups as other exchanges attempt to boost volumes. (Editing by William Hardy)