Politics

Wall St halts delisting of Chinese firms

The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) says it no longer intends to delist three Chinese telecom giants that have been targeted by US President Donald Trump’s outgoing administration, in a shock reversal of an announcement made only last week.

The exchange said in a statement it had made the decision “in light of further consultation with relevant regulatory authorities”.

On Thursday, NYSE said it would delist China Mobile, China Telecom Corp and China Unicom Hong Kong following US government moves to block investment in 35 firms deemed to be owned or controlled by the Chinese military.

Hong Kong-listed shares in the firms surged on Monday’s announcement, with China Unicom up 6.7 per cent, while China Mobile and China Telecom each gained 5 per cent.

“(It) shows how little light there is in that set of regulatory guidance so far, especially around the time the US is changing administrations,” Tariq Dennison, managing director at GFM Asset Management in Hong Kong, said.

Dennison’s funds hold China Mobile shares in Hong Kong and New York, but he has largely unwound New York positions recently, partly to find US clients investments that are less exposed to ongoing Sino-US tensions.

“I don’t think Biden will magically de-escalate anything,” Dennison said.

“He is inheriting a position of tension in US-China relations where he will probably not want his first 100 days to be remembered for instant concessions.”

China Unicom and China Telecom said in statements that they had taken note of the development and would release information in accordance with regulations, adding that investors should pay attention to investment risks.

A representative for China Mobile was not immediately available for comment.

A representative for the NYSE declined to comment beyond the statement.

China’s foreign ministry had called the planned delisting of the three companies “unwise” and denounced what it said were “random, arbitrary and uncertain” rules.

The NYSE’s latest announcement briefly boosted an already rising Chinese yuan to a 30-month high on hopes it might herald some kind of easing in geopolitical tension.

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