China resumes initial public offerings after four-month break

A show of confidence by authorities as crackdown continues on 'malicious trading'

PUBLISHED : Friday, 06 November, 2015, 5:48pm
UPDATED : Monday, 09 November, 2015, 5:58pm

Beijing yesterday announced a resumption of its initial public offering (IPO) market after a four-month hiatus as stocks are back in bull market territory and the authorities have got a firmer grip on supposed market manipulation.

Deng Ge, the spokesman for the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), said IPOs would be resumed to "invigorate" the market since stocks have recovered the ability to "self-adjust". Ten companies will go public in the next two weeks, he said at a media briefing.

Earlier in the day, Xinhua reported two executives from a Hong Kong-owned fund had been arrested for irregular futures trades involving hundreds of millions of dollars.

Separately, Shanghai DZH said in a filing with the Shanghai exchange that it had been barred by the CSRC from the market for "violating regulation". The company would also be fined 600,000 yuan (HK$731,700), it said.

Beijing suspended new listings on July 4 when markets looked unsteady. The authorities have since pumped in over 1.5 trillion yuan into the stock market to support prices, according to Goldman Sachs, and cracked down on "malicious trading".

The resumption comes amid a market rebound. The Shanghai Composite Index is up 25 per cent since August lows.

Deng also said the CSRC would improve IPO rules, including scrapping the capital-freezing process for share subscriptions. Investors now pay upfront to subscribe to new shares and the money is refunded after the shares are allotted. In future they will only pay if they get the shares. Deng did not announce a time-frame for the new system, which will protect existing stocks from the cash crunch that IPOs inflict.

"The new rules allow you to play roulette without paying. You will pay only when you win," said Adam Xu, a mutual fund manager based in Shanghai.

Michael Every, head of financial markets research at Rabobank, said the decision to resume IPOs was a further sign that market conditions have recovered from the summer nightmare.

But he added a word of caution: "Temporarily we are back in a bull market, and to be frank, god knows why. The fundamentals are getting worse."

Sentiment has revived not just on the mainland market but in Hong Kong too. Riding the wave, several companies, with businesses ranging from food processing to mental health care, are going public. These include a US$600 million IPO by Bank of Jinzhou and a US$1.34 billion one by Dali Foods.