Zhou Hongyi (L), chairman of 360 Security Technology Inc, Robin Li (C), chairman of Baidu Inc and Ding Lei, CEO of NetEase Inc. (Photo provided to China Daily)
China will establish a State financing guarantee fund and support leading innovative enterprises in going public as part of the country's efforts to make the economy more innovative and competitive, according to the annual Government Work Report delivered by Premier Li Keqiang on Monday.[Special coverage]
The move comes close on the heels of the country's securities regulator reportedly speeding up the approval process of initial public offerings for technology and innovative companies in the domestic market. The fast-track IPO process has also prompted some of the overseas-listed Chinese companies to consider listing their shares in the domestic bourses.
Robin Li, chairman of leading Chinese search engine Baidu Inc, said on the sidelines of the annual two sessions that he was hopeful that his company would be able to list on the domestic stock exchanges as its major users and markets are in China, and it would be ideal if the major shareholders are also in China.
Li, a member of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, pointed out that the reason why Baidu went public in the United States was because the policy did not allow it to list in the domestic bourses at that time. The variable interest entity structure of Baidu is a foreign-funded company from the perspective of Chinese law, and there are still policy barriers to this issue.
"Whenever the policy allows Baidu to come back, we certainly hope that we can return to the domestic stock market as soon as possible," Li added.
The China Securities Regulatory Commission and the domestic stock exchanges are preparing a pilot program that will allow Chinese unicorn technology companies to float shares in the onshore market, Wang Jianjun, general manager of the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, told reporters during the annual two sessions.
Wang, who is a deputy to the 13th National People's Congress, said that the Shenzhen Stock Exchange is home to China's high-tech companies, and it would be a big loss for the Chinese capital market if the domestic stock exchanges were not able to attract listings of Chinese unicorn companies and offer them favorable development conditions.
"We will certainly consider returning to the A-share market," Ding Lei, a member of the 13th CPPCC National Committee and CEO of NetEase Inc, a Nasdaq-listed Chinese internet and online gaming company, told Shanghai Securities News.
360 Security Technology Inc, a Chinese internet security company previously listed in New York, has returned to Chinese stock markets through a back-door listing. Its market cap surpassed billion－a sevenfold increase on its previous value in the U.S. market.
"As far as I know, there are many overseas-listed high-tech enterprises that want to go back to the A-share market," said Zhou Hongyi, chairman of 360 Security Technology, and also a member of the 13th CPPCC National Committee, believing there will be more and more outstanding internet companies returning to the domestic market in the future.
Chen Jiahe, chief strategist at Cinda Securities, said that it is a positive trend that leading Chinese technology companies are keen on returning to the home market and the regulators are making changes to the existing share issuance rules to make that happen. "It shows that the country's economy is gaining new momentum and it is also a sign that the Chinese capital market is becoming more mature," Chen said.