Hong Kong Stock Exchange

Citic Securities net profit climbs 10pc, chairman voices support for mainland depositary receipts to attract foreign-listed techs

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 March, 2018, 2:29pm
UPDATED : Friday, 23 March, 2018, 10:48pm

China’s top ranked brokerage company Citic Securities reported net profit increased by 10 per cent to 11.4 billion yuan (US$1.8 billion) for 2017, even as business conditions were adversely affected by a price war among competitors and as turnover on the A-share market declined by 12 per cent on year.

“Competition for the year of 2018 will still be tough and uncertainties remain for business outlook,” said Zhang Youjun, chairman of Citic Securities on Friday in Hong Kong.

He said the company supported China’s campaign to get US-listed tech giants including Alibaba Group Holding to offer part of their shares on the domestic A-share market, but did not directly say whether Citic was working on the deal.

Zhang took over the post as chairman of the company in January, 2016, after former chairman Wang Dongming and a team of top executives stepped down, amid irregularities related to the stock rout which hit the mainland share market in mid 2015.

In 2016, following the management overhaul, net profit plunged 47.7 per cent to 10.4 billion yuan, while total revenue dropped by 31.3 per cent to 50.1 billion yuan.

As a sector, China’s securities firms in 2017 saw net profit decline by 8 per cent on average, as revenue down by 5 per cent, while turnover volume on the A-share market slid by 12 per cent, following a 50 per cent drop in 2016, Zhang said.

Zhang said Citic Securities would continue diversifying its business lines and strengthen its wealth management arm, at the same time operating under the principle of “implementing national strategies and serving the real economy”.

Alibaba is considering an A-share listing through an issue of Chinese depositary receipts (CDRs) that may come as soon as the middle of this year. The fundraising size is yet to be determined but may be more than 10 billion yuan, Reuters reported on Thursday.

Citic Securities is working on the preparation work and is likely to act as the sponsor of the issuance, the report said.

China has stepped up its efforts to entice overseas-incorporated companies, to list in its domestic stock market.

As part of that campaign, the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) is planning to introduce CDRs as soon as this year to allow qualified overseas-listed companies to list in the domestic market.

Regulators will “create many tools, or put in a suitable system” to allow overseas-listed unicorns to offer A shares on mainland bourses, said the CSRC’s chairman Liu Shiyu, during China’s annual legislative meetings earlier in March in Beijing.

To underscore the pledge that Beijing will help listings of “good quality” companies, the CSRC approved the 21 billion yuan (US$3.3 billion) capital-raising application last week by Foxconn Industrial Internet – a unit of the world’s largest contract maker of consumer electronics – in 21 working days, a record for listing applications that could take as long as two years.

Alongside Alibaba, a number of overseas-listed Chinese companies are considering CDR issues, including, Tencent Holdings, Baidu, NetEase and Sogou, as their founders have publicly voiced their willingness for a mainland market presence.

Alibaba is the owner of the South China Morning Post.