U.S. media said that members of the U.S. House of Representatives are likely to force Chinese companies listed on the U.S. Stock Exchange to finally comply with auditing regulations next week, otherwise they will simply withdraw from the U.S. market.
House leaders plan to consider passing a bill on December 2 to force Chinese companies to either accept the annual audit system reviewed by U.S. regulators or delist their shares from the United States. A notice released online on the 27th shows that the House of Representatives plans to vote on the rules of limiting debate and two-thirds of the people supporting the bill.
According to the report, if the bill becomes law, it will give Chinese companies and their auditors three years to comply with the review requirements, after which these companies will be kicked out of the New York Stock Exchange or the Nasdaq stock exchange if they fail to meet the standards.
The report mentioned that Chinese officials have been critical of the bill, saying that there is a better way to resolve the differences between Washington and Beijing on audit issues, and that the delisting of Chinese companies harms the U.S. capital market.
It is reported that the bill has bipartisan support. The bill was unanimously passed in the Senate in May, which means that if the House of Representatives passes it, it will have the conditions for Trump to sign into law. The Securities and Exchange Commission is also currently considering a proposal that requires audit review as a condition for continued listing on the stock exchange, but will allow enterprises that do not comply with the relevant provisions to conduct over-the-counter transactions.
According to the report, the Senate version of the bill was co-sponsored by Senator John Kennedy, Republican of Louisiana, and Chris Van Hollen, a Democrat from Maryland.
In the United States, audit supervision is handled by a special supervision body, the Accounting Oversight Committee of Listed Companies. The reason for the establishment of the committee is that many accounting scandals nearly 20 years ago led to the bankruptcy of many companies such as Enron.
Dan Gorzer, a former general adviser to the Securities and Exchange Commission and a former member of the Publicly Listed Companies Accounting Oversight Committee, said: “I hope that if this bill is passed, it will become a lever to leverage China and the United States to sit down to solve the problem.”
Data provided by Standard & Poor’s Global Market Intelligence shows that since January 2014, more than 170 companies headquartered in mainland China or Hong Kong have completed their initial public offering in the United States, raising about $58.7 billion.
However, if the bill forces Chinese listed companies in the United States to withdraw from the U.S. market in large numbers, American investors who hold their shares will face risks and difficulties.
Generally speaking, when the New York Stock Exchange or Nasdaq announces that the company is delisted, its shares will still be traded over the counter, so investors can continue to buy and sell such stocks. However, the bill initiated by Senator Kennedy also stipulates that Chinese companies will not conduct over-the-counter transactions if their audit results remain unexamined three years later.
The report believes that if such a ban takes effect, American investors will not be able to easily hold shares in Chinese companies. Depending on the reaction of the company involved, the American shareholders either sell their shares back to that company or convert their shares into shares listed on overseas exchanges.
According to the report, some companies have said that if the bill is passed, they will go public on exchanges outside the United States. Some Chinese companies said that the bill may force American investors to convert their holdings into Hong Kong shares. But some investors will find it difficult to do this, because not all U.S. brokerage companies can provide access to foreign stock markets.
“Investors may encounter many difficulties in converting their relevant common shares into Hong Kong shares, and investors may have to pay more or suffer losses for it,” the Chinese company said in a document submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission in July.
The report also said that other Chinese companies may delist. The delisting mechanism is relatively simple, and investors can exchange their stocks for cash. But the management team can buy all the shares held by American shareholders at a low price, which will benefit insiders and external investors will fall victim.
Jesse Fried, a law professor at Harvard University, said: “They may privatize the company at a low price by threatening to delist. In this way, the law will put American investors in a worse situation.