Shares of Chinese companies flagged for possible delisting in the U.S. slid in Hong Kong and Shanghai trading Friday, a move that analysts said highlighted geopolitical tensions but would have little immediate impact on the companies’ operations.
In Hong Kong afternoon trading, fast-food-chain operator Yum China Holdings Inc. YUMC, -10.94% slumped 8.2%, on track for its biggest percentage drop since listing in the financial hub in 2020. Beijing-based biopharmaceutical company Beigene Ltd. 688235, -4.11% BGNE, -5.87% was recently 6.4% lower, Shanghai-headquartered pharmaceutical company Zai Lab Ltd. ZLAB, -9.02% 9688, -4.32% lost 6.7% and Hong Kong-based biopharmaceutical company Hutchmed (China) Ltd. HCM, -6.53% 13, -9.12% shed 14%. On the Shanghai stock exchange, ACM Research Inc., which produces cleaning equipment for semiconductor devices, was last 9.4% lower.
All five companies fell in U.S. trading Thursday after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission put up a provisional list of companies that could be delisted if they don’t measure up to U.S. accounting standards.
The China Securities Regulatory Commission early Friday said it is “strongly against some entities politicizing securities regulation” and has been in talks with the U.S. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board.
The selloff was part of a broader turmoil in U.S.-listed Chinese stocks overnight, in what was the worst rout since October 2008, IG market strategist Jun Rong Yeap said in a research note, as the SEC’s provisional list “served as a reminder for the regulatory risks surrounding Chinese equities.”
Citi said the selloff was an opportunity to buy American depositary receipts of large-cap companies that have dual listings in Hong Kong.
“The SEC update is not new news and any real risk of ADRs delisting will likely materialize” closer to 2024-2025 if companies fail to disclose requirements mandated by the SEC for three consecutive years, Citi said in research note.
The SEC’s preliminary list represented an early step in applying the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act that can force companies off U.S. exchanges if they fail to hand over their audit work papers for three years in a row.
Yum China said in a statement Friday morning that its stock will be delisted from the New York Stock Exchange in early 2024 “unless the Act is amended to exclude the company or the PCAOB is able to conduct a full inspection of the company’s auditor during the required timeframe.”
The company said it will continue to monitor market developments and evaluate its options.
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