U.S. Markets open in 1 hr 48 mins

China's New Nasdaq-Style Venue Set for Monday Trading Start

Bloomberg News
1 / 2

Trading Frenzy Grips China’s New Stock Venue After Big IPO Gains

(Bloomberg) -- They propelled a little-known semiconductor manufacturer to a 521% surge, traded a mid-sized railway company 13 times more feverishly than the world’s largest bank and valued a chipmaking-gear producer at an eye-watering 730 times earnings.Chinese investors greeted the opening of the country’s Nasdaq-style equity market with a frenzied burst of trading on Monday, driving gains in all 25 companies that made their debut. The stocks jumped an average 140% at the close in Shanghai, even as most slipped from their intraday highs. About 48.5 billion yuan ($7.1 billion) of shares changed hands on the so-called Star board, or about 13% of turnover in the rest of the market.The new venue is China’s latest attempt to avoid losing the next Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. or Tencent Holdings Ltd. to exchanges in New York or Hong Kong. Endorsement from top officials helped generate such enthusiasm that firms raised a combined $5.4 billion, about 20% more than planned. Demand from retail investors has outstripped supply by an average 1,800 times, even as some analysts voiced concern over lofty valuations.“Gains were much stronger than expected, either due to unreasonable IPO pricing or speculative trading,” said Zhu Junchun, a Shanghai-based analyst with Lianxun Securities Co. “It’s going to be a liquidity game in the first half year or one year of trading. Judging by the trading activity and gains on the board, it’s definitely a success.”The board is also a testing ground for regulators, who have waived rules on valuations and debut-day price limits for the first time since 2014. The venue is the only one in China to welcome companies that have yet to make a profit, as well as shares with unequal voting rights. The Shanghai stock exchange will create an index tracking the firms about two weeks after the 30th listing starts trading.Shares on the Star board have no daily price limits for the first five trading days, followed by a 20% cap in either direction. To limit volatility, the venue suspends activity for 10 minutes if a stock moves by 30% and then 60% from the opening price in the first five trading days, a wider band than the rest of the stock market. Only certain qualified foreign investors can buy the stocks directly, as there’s no access through trading links with Hong Kong.The first batch of listings included China Railway Signal & Communication Corporation Ltd., whose Hong Kong shares sank on huge volume as traders switched into the A shares. Advanced Micro-Fabrication Equipment Inc., which was the most expensive listing of the batch, jumped as much as 331%. Its 171 multiple compared with an average of 53 times for the group, and 33 for similar stocks on other Chinese venues.Despite the hype, there are questions about whether the excitement will give way to the lukewarm sentiment that’s blanketing the world’s second-largest equity market. On the other hand, a sustained period of ultra-high demand risks draining funds from other exchanges, where volumes are shrinking. The Shanghai Composite Index fell 1.3% on Monday, while the ChiNext Index was down 1.7%.It’s not the first time China has sought to create an alternative venue for smaller companies. The ChiNext board was launched in Shenzhen almost a decade ago with fewer listing requirements than the main venues. The tech-heavy exchange was at the center of a spectacular boom and bust in 2015 that burned hordes of novice traders. Officials will be keen to avoid such extreme volatility -- the ChiNext remains more than 60% below its peak four years ago.“I’m not going to participate in the Star board anytime soon,” said Qu Shaohua, managing director at Acroguardian Investment Co. “With prices at these levels it will take quite a long time for the market to fully digest the current valuation and adjust to a reasonable price.”The Star board’s launch dovetails with Beijing’s pledge to boost direct financing for companies struggling to raise funds, and has taken on added significance as heightened trade tensions with the U.S. threaten China’s technology supply chain.“I would say that the launch is a success,” said Fu Lichun, an analyst at Northeast Securities. “People are indeed quite enthusiastic, and maybe got a little over-excited at the open.”\--With assistance from Irene Huang, Lujia Yu, Fox Hu, Ken Wang, Ludi Wang and Michael Patterson.To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Evelyn Yu in Shanghai at yyu263@bloomberg.net;April Ma in Beijing at ama112@bloomberg.net;Amanda Wang in Shanghai at twang234@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Sofia Horta e Costa at shortaecosta@bloomberg.net;Sam Mamudi at smamudi@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

(Bloomberg) -- Sign up for Next China, a weekly email on where the nation stands now and where it's going next.

Less than a year after President Xi Jinping first touted the project, China’s new stock venue designed for technology startups will start trading on Monday.

Twenty-five companies will be part of the launch in Shanghai, out of the more than 100 hopefuls that applied to go public on the platform. Endorsement from top officials helped generate such enthusiasm that the firms raised a combined $5.4 billion, about 20% more than planned. Demand from retail investors has outstripped supply by an average 1,800 times, even as some analysts voiced concern over lofty valuations. One company priced its shares at 171 times earnings.

“The first-batch listings are expected to be boosted by investor demand,” said Mark Huang, an analyst at Bright Smart Securities. “There’s a good chance we’ll see a rush into these stocks due to the limited supply.”

Modeled after the Nasdaq Stock Market in the U.S., the so-called STAR board is China’s latest attempt to avoid losing the next Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. or Tencent Holdings Ltd. to exchanges in New York or Hong Kong. It’s also a testing ground for regulators, who have waived rules on valuations and first-day price limits for the first time since 2014. The venue will be the first in China to welcome companies that have yet to make a profit, as well as shares with unequal voting rights.

The listing companies include China Railway Signal & Communication Corporation Ltd. -- already listed in Hong Kong -- and gastrointestinal equipment maker Micro-Tech (Nanjing) Co. Ltd. Advanced Micro-Fabrication Equipment Inc., which sells products used to make semiconductors, is the most expensive stock of the batch. Its 171 multiple compares with an average of 53 times for the group, and 33 for similar stocks on other Chinese venues.

A handful of stocks linked to the first batch advanced on Friday, showing investor enthusiasm ahead of the new board’s debut. And another two firms joined the queue to list: Amlogic (Shanghai) Co. and Shanghai Friendess Electronic Technology are aiming to raise a combined 2 billion yuan ($291 million), according to their prospectuses.

Despite the hype, there are questions about whether the excitement will give way to the lukewarm sentiment that’s blanketing the world’s second-largest equity market. On the other hand, a sustained period of ultra-high demand risks draining funds other exchanges, where volumes are shrinking. Mainland markets sank earlier this month after China announced the STAR board’s official start date. The Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.8% on Friday.

It’s not the first time China has sought to create an alternative venue for smaller companies. The ChiNext board was launched in Shenzhen almost a decade ago with fewer listing requirements than the main venues. The tech-heavy exchange was at the center of a spectacular boom and bust in 2015 that burned hordes of novice traders. Officials will be keen to avoid such extreme volatility -- the ChiNext remains more than 60% below its peak four years ago.

Shares on the STAR board will have no daily price limits for the first five trading days, followed by a 20% cap in either direction. To limit volatility, the venue will feature a mechanism that suspends activity for 10 minutes if a stock moves by 30% and then 60% from the opening price in the first five trading days, a wider band than the rest of the stock market.

The STAR board’s launch dovetails with Beijing’s pledge to boost direct financing for companies struggling to raise funds, and has taken on added significance as heightened trade tensions with the U.S. threaten China’s technology supply chain.

“It’s one of China’s key strategies to support technological innovation,” said Zhang Yankun, fund manager at Beijing Hone Investment Management Co. “If investors can get decent returns from these listings, it would attract more money to the sector and help China’s capital market compete with developed markets.”

(Updates with stock moves in sixth and seventh paragraphs.)

--With assistance from Irene Huang and Lujia Yu.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Ken Wang in Beijing at ywang1690@bloomberg.net;Evelyn Yu in Shanghai at yyu263@bloomberg.net;Fox Hu in Hong Kong at fhu7@bloomberg.net;Ludi Wang in Shanghai at lwang191@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Sofia Horta e Costa at shortaecosta@bloomberg.net;Sam Mamudi at smamudi@bloomberg.net

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.