China’s, NetEase win Hong Kong nod for listings amid political tensions

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KONG – and have won approvals to forge ahead with their Hong Kong share sales that could raise billions of dollars, as turmoil leaves the city’s status as an international finance center clouded in uncertainty.

Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd (HKEX) approved the secondary listing applications by the US-listed Chinese tech companies, according to people familiar with the matter, asking not to be identified discussing private matters. Online gaming firm NetEase filed a preliminary prospectus with the exchange later on Friday, a confirmation that it has received the official green light.

NetEase plans to list in Hong Kong on June 11, while China’s No 2 online retailer JD aims to debut on June 18, Bloomberg News has reported. JD’s stock sale could raise at least US$2 billion (S$2.8 billion) to help the e-commerce firm shore up its position in an increasingly competitive home market.

Representatives for Hong Kong’s stock exchange, JD and NetEase declined to comment.

Escalating between Washington and Beijing are increasing risks for Chinese companies like JD and NetEase who seek to broaden their investor base. US capital markets are becoming frosty toward Chinese firms, and fears over the impact of national security legislation set to be imposed on Hong Kong, including the resumption of protests in the city, have sent the local market into convulsions.

The twin debuts would follow Alibaba Group Holding’s US$13 billion Hong Kong stock sale last year, hailed as a homecoming for Chinese companies and a for Hong Kong stock exchange, which lost many of the largest tech corporations to US bourses because it didn’t allow dual-class share voting at the time – a requirement that’s since been relaxed.

Shares in US-listed Chinese companies have see-sawed since senators overwhelmingly approved legislation on May 20 that could bar the country’s firms from American exchanges. The decision cast a pall of uncertainty over hundreds of billions of dollars of shares in some of the world’s best-known companies.

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