Brokerage head questions IPO freeze

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 May, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 May, 2009, 12:00am

Citic Securities chairman Wang Dongming fired the first salvo at the mainland regulator, saying the suspension of initial public offerings to support stock prices is wrong.

Speaking at a financial forum in Shanghai at the weekend, the head of the mainland's largest brokerage warned that the capital market was being 'marginalised' as the intervention hampered the growth of the securities sector.

'Using administrative forces to control the timing, rhythm, size and price of [share sales] while orchestrating rally and fall on the market is questionable,' Mr Wang said. 'In fact, the real situation has proved the measures wrong.'

The China Securities Regulatory Commission suspended listing approvals in September last year to avert the flow of fresh equity and boost the weak market.

The Shanghai Composite Index has jumped 54.99 per cent since November 4 last year when it hit a 26-month low.

Mainland banks extended new loans worth 5.17 trillion yuan (HK$5.87 trillion) in the first four months of this year. However, listed companies have raised only 20 billion yuan from share placements in the same period.

Mr Wang said 300 to 400 companies were keen to launch share sales to raise funds for expansion, but the suspension had deterred them from raising funds.

He is the first head of a brokerage to publicly criticise the regulator over the listing suspension.

Citic Securities led mainland brokerages in terms of underwriting business last year. It managed four sales and seven placement deals. The company's net profit dropped 41 per cent to 7.3 billon yuan last year.

The recent market gain has heightened brokerages' expectations for a resumption of share offerings but the CSRC said it was still studying reform of the listing mechanism before it resumes vetting applications.

Mainland offerings are priced artificially low to help state-owned companies wishing to raise funds. The new shares normally jump on their trading debut, bringing owners handsome first-day gains.

Institutional investors were the top beneficiary of the old system since they were certain to obtain a big tranche of new shares through the lottery system.

Securities officials said the regulator planned to let market forces rule the share sales.