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China Seeks to Ban Data-Rich Firms From U.S. IPOs, DJ Says

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(Bloomberg) -- China will propose new regulations to block companies with large amounts of sensitive consumer data from floating shares in the U.S., Dow Jones reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

China’s stock market watchdog has told companies and investors the envisioned rules will prohibit firms from listing abroad, particularly those seeking a foreign IPO via overseas-incorporated entities. Sectors with less sensitive information, such as pharmaceuticals, remain likely to win approval for an IPO, Dow Jones reported.

The regulations could be finalized and implemented only around the fourth quarter, so the agency has asked some companies to suspend IPOs till then, the newspaper added.

Beijng has since July all but frozen the once-thriving pipeline of U.S. IPOs by Chinese firms. That month, the powerful internet industry overseer launched a cybersecurity probe into Didi Global Inc. and decreed that any company holding data on more than a million users now needs its approval when seeking listings in other nations.

That marked one of the most concrete steps taken yet to restrain the ability of technology firms to raise capital in the U.S. through a so-called Variable Interest Entity -- an overseas-incorporated body -- that the likes of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. to Baidu Inc. and Didi have adopted. The Cyberspace Administration of China said in its July statement that it will work with different agencies to police data security and overseas listings.

Read more: China Signals End to $2 Trillion U.S. Listings Juggernaut

Authorities have accelerated a crackdown against overseas listings after Didi was said to push ahead with its debut in June, despite being asked to delay the plans months prior. The State Council, China’s highest decision-making body, has said rules for overseas listings will be revised while publicly traded firms will be held accountable for keeping their data secure.

It remains unclear whether some companies may be exempt from the broader moratorium. Aichi Automobile Co., an electric-vehicle startup better known as Aiways, is exploring a U.S. initial public offering that could occur as soon as this year, Bloomberg News has reported. EVs play into one of Xi Jinping’s top priorities, environmental technology.

(Updates with previous IPO regulations from the third paragraph)

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