American capital market remains discriminative toward Chinese IPOs

Indications that some Chinese companies are planning small-scale IPOs in the US don’t necessarily indicate a trend, as larger companies — especially those in the internet sector — are taking a wait-and-see attitude amid strengthened regulatory moves, industry insiders told the Global Times on Wednesday.

At least six Chinese companies have filed documents for New York listings in recent weeks, Reuters reported. However, the plans are for small-scale IPOs, ranging from $1 million to $35 million.

Meihua International Medical Technologies Co, a disposable medical-device maker based in East China’s Jiangsu Province, is poised to be the first Chinese firm to list in the US since October last year, when biotech start-up LianBio raised $325 million in an IPO.

Expected to price its IPO this week, Meihua is seeking to raise about $57.5 million on Nasdaq from the sale of 5 million shares in a range of $9 to $11.

The companies planning US listings are too small to portend a reversal of the current situation, with US IPOs by Chinese companies having nearly vanished since July, when ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing was facing a cybersecurity review by Chinese regulators following its debut on the New York Stock Exchange, Bocom International’s managing director Hong Hao told the Global Times on Wednesday.

“Big firms, especially internet firms, now need to be approved by the regulators before they plan their overseas listings, but at the implementation level, it is still not clear about the procedures, so big firms will choose to wait,” Hong noted.

Qi Kezhan, founder of Merger China Group, a Beijing-based consulting firm and private investment fund, told the Global Times on Wednesday that it is still too early to say there’s a new trend for Chinese firms’ US IPOs.

“When Chinese regulators’ supervisory procedures return to normal, more Chinese firms might begin planning their listings in the US.”

Chinese regulators have stressed that improving the supervision framework does not represent a tightening of policies involving overseas IPOs, but a necessary step to facilitate China’s high-level opening-up.

“On the US side, the hostile attitude toward Chinese state-owned firms that attempt to list there is likely to become worse, but for private firms that are beneficial to local employment or could help alleviate inflation, the US has the motivation to welcome them,” Qi noted.

China Mobile, the telecom behemoth that was delisted from the US stock market last year, debuted on the Shanghai Stock Exchange in January, and the delisting may prompt more Chinese firms to seek home-return listings amid rising uncertainties in the US capital market.

In January, China said it would put in force new rules to increase its oversight of plans by Chinese platform businesses to get public overseas.

The Cyberspace Administration of China said the new rules require platform companies with data of more than 1 million end users to undergo a security review before listing overseas.

Separately, in December 2021, the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) released draft rules that would ban listings endangering national security and mandate security review filings by IPO hopefuls that fall under the purview of foreign investment security and cyber-security reviews, as the country took a key step to closing its securities regulatory loopholes in the face of financial decoupling by the US.

In terms of concerns over China’s ban on variable interest entity (VIE) structures following Didi’s delisting from the US in December, the CSRC said Chinese companies with VIE structures that meet compliance requirements could list abroad after going on the record, on the premise that they abide by Chinese regulations and laws.

Source: Global Times

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