The Shanghai Futures Exchange may establish overseas warehouses and open contracts to foreign investors, boosting competition with the London Metal Exchange, the world\'s biggest marketplace for industrial metals. The bourse, China\'s second-largest, plans to start crude-oil futures trading by the end of the year and is seeking to expand delivery into so-called bonded warehouses to other products, Chairwoman Wang Lihua said at a conference in Shanghai yesterday. She gave no timeframe for overseas locations. The moves may help China, the world\'s biggest user of metals such as copper and aluminum, to have more influence on global commodities pricing. Futures markets in the country are now closed to overseas investors. The LME, considering a possible takeover, plans to hire more people in Asia and expand its warehouse network into China, Chief Executive Officer Martin Abbott said in a Bloomberg Television interview on May 4. \"The whole purpose of opening up to overseas investors and setting up foreign warehouses is to boost the competitive position of China in the global market and to better compete with the LME,\" Lin Ruhan, general manager of Shanghai Futures Investment Co., a futures-fund company, said by phone yesterday. The LME licenses a network of more than 600 storage sites worldwide where users can deposit metals, with Asian locations in Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and Singapore. Foreign bourses are prohibited from setting up warehouses for delivery in China before rules are issued on the opening of futures markets, according to the China Securities Regulatory Commission. The Shanghai exchange started last year to allow copper and aluminum delivery to warehouses located in the city\'s free trade zones, in which products are exempted from value-added tax and import duties. The city, China\'s financial hub, plans to increase metals storage at bonded warehouses by as much as fivefold in an effort to boost its status as a global trade centre, the Shanghai Free Trade Zones Administration has said. The bourse is studying iron ore and hot-rolled coil as new contracts, and plans to open base and precious metals contracts to overseas investors, eventually extending the programme to all products, Wang said yesterday.