China Life case shows disparity in policies
The different suspension times of China Life Insurance's shares last Monday is the most recent case highlighting the disparity of regulatory policies between the Hong Kong and Shanghai markets towards media reports, market rumours and share suspension.
According to the Shanghai Securities News, which cited an unnamed source in the Shanghai Stock Exchange, an exchange staff official at 6pm on April 22 read a report on the internet which said China Life's parent firm would list its shares.
The exchange official tried to contact China Life management who were on a roadshow in Europe. After a China Life official denied the report, the exchange official told the company to follow listing rules to suspend A-share trading the following day and reminded it to do the same for its H shares in Hong Kong.
The Shanghai exchange official was reported to have tried to contact Hong Kong exchange officials about the suspension of China Life's A shares but could not reach anyone that night, which was a Sunday, nor was the official successful the next day following repeated telephone calls from 8.40am. The Shanghai exchange finally got in touch with the Hong Kong exchange at 9am, but when China Life suspended its A shares before the mainland market opened at 9.30am, the Hong Kong bourse still allowed its H shares to be traded during the pre-opening session from 9.30am until 9.50am, with 10 transactions worth HK$200 million being made.
The H shares were eventually suspended from trading at 9.50am when the Hong Kong exchange contacted China Life's official representative in Hong Kong.
The incident showed some key differences between the two markets.
In Shanghai, companies and related derivatives must suspend trading until the clarification of media reports - the most usual way in the mainland to get information.
Hong Kong regulators let companies request suspension amid rumours or media reports. Companies only need to issue clarification through terminals of the stock exchange.
A Hong Kong stock exchange source said it would propose to ask companies to make suspension requests by 9am to prevent suspension timing problems.