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China to step up supervision of overseas-listed companies

china's didi global inc. debuts on new york stock exchange
Didi shares slumped as much as 25% in U.S. pre-market trade ahead of their first session REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

China will step up supervision of Chinese firms listed offshore, its cabinet said on Tuesday, days after Beijing launched a cybersecurity investigation into ride-hailing giant Didi Global Inc on the heels of its U.S. stock market listing.

Under the new measures, China will improve regulation of cross-border data flows and security, crack down on illegal activity in the securities market and punish fraudulent securities issuance, market manipulation and insider trading, a statement by China’s cabinet said.

China will also check sources of funding for securities investment and control leverage ratios, it said.

The move comes amid China’s sweeping clampdown on its massive and once-freewheeling online “platform economy”, which has been the target of antitrust investigations and penalties as well as increased scrutiny of data security and privacy, and as U.S.-China tensions have spread to capital markets.

Earlier on Tuesday, Didi shares slumped as much as 25% in U.S. pre-market trade ahead of their first session since the Cyberspace Administration of China ordered the company’s app be removed from app stores in the country just days after its $4.4 billion listing on the New York Stock Exchange.

U.S.-listed Chinese companies including Full Truck Alliance and Kanzhun Ltd were also set to open lower on Tuesday after the CAC on Monday announced cybersecurity investigations into their affiliated businesses.

In March, the U.S. securities regulator began a rollout of rules to exclude foreign companies from U.S. exchanges if they did not comply with U.S. auditing standards, a move aimed at removing Chinese firms from U.S. exchanges if they fail to comply with U.S. auditing standards for three straight years.

In May, Reuters reported that Beijing was pressing audio platform Ximalaya to drop U.S. listing plans and opt for Hong Kong instead, with one source at the time citing Beijing’s growing concerns that U.S. regulators will potentially gain greater access to audit documents of New York-listed Chinese companies.

Several big U.S.-listed Chinese companies, including internet giants Alibaba and Baidu, have issued shares in Hong Kong in the past two years.

U.S. exchanges have long been popular listing venues for Chinese tech firms attracted by deep liquidity, high valuations and easier profitability rules.

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