U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to soon sign into law a bill that will allow the United States to kick Chinese companies off its exchanges if they fail to comply with the U.S. Public Accounting Oversight Board’s audits for three years in a row.
Chinese authorities have long been reluctant to let overseas regulators inspect local accounting firms, citing national security concerns.
If they do not bend, then there may be little the companies themselves can do to prevent a delisting, although some analysts expect U.S. and Chinese regulators to reach a compromise sometime in the next three years.
STEPHEN CHAN, PARTNER AT LAW FIRM DECHERTS, HONG KONG:
“With the House now having passed the bill and the executive order blocking certain U.S. investments in Chinese companies which the U.S considers to be owned or controlled by Chinese military, I would expect more U.S. listed Chinese companies to seek a secondary listing in Hong Kong or elsewhere."
“Also Chinese companies considering a U.S. listing may seriously give some thoughts on listing in other jurisdictions, including Hong Kong."
RICHARD JI, FOUNDER OF HONG KONG-BASED ALL-STAR INVESTMENTS:
“One thing is certain - companies who were originally planning to list in the U.S. might be now considering coming to Hong Kong instead. Ironically Hong Kong has become the beneficiary of this."
SUMEET SINGH, AEQUITAS RESEARCH PARTNER WHO PUBLISHES ON SMARTKARMA, SINGAPORE:
“China is trying to develop its own financial markets, it’s not in their interest to make any concessions. By not doing so they will force their companies to stick closer to home like Hong Kong, Shanghai, Shenzhen, that is good for their own markets.
“It will probably and already has impacted the pipeline with some new techs firms like Bytedance and Didi (which) are now much more likely to list in Hong Kong."
FRANK BI, PARTNER AT LAW FIRM ASHURST, HONG KONG:
“I think it will be likely the two governments and regulators will discuss some alternative approaches."
“But in the near term, more listed Chinese companies will look for a homecoming listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and fewer Chinese companies considering a listing will actively pursue that on the U.S. markets."
JASON ELDER, PARTNER AT LAW FIRM MAYER BROWN, HONG KONG:
“The U.S. markets remain extraordinarily deep pools of liquidity and sector expertise that produce strong valuations for quality issuers. PRC-based companies will continue give considerable weight to the many commercial advantages of being listed in the United States."
“Importantly, the legislation contains a three-year ‘phase-in’ period for compliance, unlike other proposals being considered. This transition should be ample time for the SEC, PCAOB and relevant PRC regulators to reach a compromise regarding the auditor oversight and financial transparency issues."
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