Nasdaq halts IPOs of small Chinese language firms because it probes inventory rallies By Reuters



© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Nasdaq brand is displayed on the Nasdaq Market web site in New York September 2, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Picture/File Picture

By Echo Wang

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Nasdaq Inc has put the brakes on preliminary public providing (IPO) preparations of no less than 4 small Chinese language firms whereas it investigates short-lived inventory rallies of such companies following their debuts, in line with attorneys and bankers who work on such inventory launches.

The inventory alternate operator’s actions come amid a surge within the shares of Chinese language firms that elevate small quantities, usually $50 million or much less, of their IPO. These shares rise as a lot as 2,000% of their debuts, solely to nosedive within the days that observe, bruising traders who’re daring sufficient to take a position on penny shares.

Douglas Ellenoff, a company and securities lawyer at Ellenoff Grossman & Schole LLP, mentioned he was knowledgeable by the Nasdaq that sure IPOs is not going to be allowed to proceed “till they decided what has been the aberrational buying and selling exercise in sure Chinese language issuers earlier this yr.”

“These had been last-minute cellphone calls, simply as we thought we had been going to go someplace with the offers,” Ellenoff mentioned.

Nasdaq began asking the advisers of small Chinese language IPO candidates questions in mid-September. The questions involved the id of their current shareholders, the place they reside, how a lot they’re investing and in the event that they had been supplied interest-free debt to allow them to take part, in line with one of many bankers, Dan McClory, who’s head of fairness capital markets at Boustead Securities.

The attorneys and bankers spoke to Reuters provided that the names of the 4 firms whose IPOs had been halted not be disclosed.

It isn’t clear what motion the Nasdaq will take as soon as it completes its probe and whether or not all or a few of the halted IPOs might be allowed to proceed. A Nasdaq spokesman declined to remark.

Seven sources who work on IPOs of small Chinese language firms spoke to Reuters on the situation that neither they nor their shoppers be recognized. These sources mentioned that the ephemeral inventory rallies had been attributable to just a few abroad traders who hid their identities and snapped up many of the shares within the choices, creating the notion that the debuts had been in demand.

Because of this, Chinese language IPOs in the US have returned this yr on common a staggering 426% of their first day of buying and selling, in contrast with 68% for all different IPOs, in line with knowledge from Dealogic.

The Securities and Trade Fee (SEC) and different U.S. monetary regulators have but to announce a case of efficiently prosecuting such pump-and-dump schemes as a result of Chinese language firms and their abroad bankers have to this point been efficient in carrying them out secretly, the seven sources mentioned.

An SEC spokesperson didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.


Nasdaq’s intervention underscores how liquidity requirements it adopted within the final three years to stop inventory manipulation in small IPOs have loopholes that Chinese language firms are exploiting. The foundations dictate that an organization going public ought to have no less than 300 traders holding no less than 100 shares every, totaling a minimal of $2,500.

But these necessities haven’t been ample to stop buying and selling manipulation in some penny shares. Small Chinese language firms have been interested in Nasdaq’s alternate moderately than the New York Inventory Trade as a result of the previous has historically been the venue of red-hot know-how startups – a picture these firms typically attempt to venture.

“Virtually all of those microcap IPOs are ‘story’ shares, the place the promoters attempt to persuade unsophisticated retail traders that this may very well be the following Moderna (NASDAQ:) or this may very well be the following Fb (NASDAQ:),” mentioned Jay Ritter, a College of Florida professor who research IPOs.

There have been 57 listings of small Chinese language firms within the final 5 years, up from 17 listings within the prior 5 years, in line with Dealogic. Up to now this yr there have been 9 such listings regardless of the U.S. IPO market dealing with its worst drought in almost twenty years as a consequence of market volatility fueled by the Federal Reserve elevating rates of interest to combat inflation.

McClory mentioned the pattern highlights the looser regulatory necessities for listings in the US in contrast with China. “It’s just about unimaginable for these firms to record onshore in China, and now the Hong Kong market has fully shut down as properly,” he mentioned.

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