China’s Nasdaq-styled board for home-grown technology companies risks turning into a hotbed for speculators when it kicks off trading in two weeks. While the companies seeking to list on the board have priced their initial public offerings much higher than the industry average, the speculative mood could still send the stocks surging on debut, investors including Hengsheng Asset Management and Xunfunds Investment Management said. It underscores a key risk facing Chinese policymakers, who are relying on the capital market to shore up the hi-tech industry amid an intensifying trade war with the US. Twenty-five companies will start trading on the Science and Technology Innovation Board, also known as the Star market on July 22, the Shanghai Stock Exchange said on its website on Friday night – eight months after President Xi Jinping announced his vision for the board. Five firms have unveiled offer prices ranging between 39.8 times and 79 times earnings. That compares with multiples of 11.4 times for the Shanghai Composite Index and 24.8 times for Shenzhen’s ChiNext board, another venue for China’s hi-tech companies that has higher listing standards. “There’s a high chance that you will see speculative trading on the first few days after the technology board starts,” said Dai Ming, a fund manager at Hengsheng Asset in Shanghai. “Although the IPO shares are already priced at high-flying levels, there are always speculators who are willing to buy on the secondary market, sending the stocks much higher before selling them.” Dips below offer prices seem unlikely as regulators want to make sure that the tech board has a successful start, which is also serving as a test bed for the registration-based system for IPOs. China’s main boards have not seen IPOs breach offer prices on debut for years, as new stocks are required to be universally priced at 23 times earnings to ensure there are no flops. The technology board is exempt from such restrictions and encourages investors to find true values of the stocks in pricing. The China Securities Regulatory Commission is no longer responsible for approving IPO sales and has devolved the vetting power to the Shanghai Stock Exchange, bringing the process more in line with international norms. Raytron Technology, a semiconductor maker in the eastern Shandong province, has priced its IPO at 79 times estimated earnings, making it the most expensive among the companies to trade on the technology board so far. Battery testing equipment maker Zhejiang HangKe Technology is the least expensive, pricing its stock at 39.8 times. Unlike the main board, which limits gains for IPO shares at 44 per cent, the technology board has no restrictions on price movements for the first five days of trading. The maximum permissible swing thereafter is set at 20 per cent against the 10 per cent for stocks listed on Shanghai’s main board. “In the short term, the new board will probably endure a pretty wild ride,” said Wang Chen, a partner at Xufunds Investment in Shanghai. “But on the other hand, the bigger price wings will also encourage stocks to fully change hands and quick value discovery among investors.” The Shanghai Stock Exchange has said that it will keep a close watch on price manipulation. The exchange will suspend trading for 10 minutes if a stock jumps or falls by 30 per cent from its opening price during intraday trading. Another 10-minute suspension will be imposed if the rise or fall hits 60 per cent during intraday trading. As of Thursday, the Shanghai exchange had received 141 IPO applications for the Star Market.