China’s tech tycoons make beeline for Hong Kong with new listings

FILE PHOTO: A panel outside the Hong Kong Exchanges displays top active securities during morning trading in Hong Kong, China October 11, 2018. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

China’s tycoons are flooding Hong Kong’s exchange with a $20 billion worth of new listings.

While the city’s rich are preparing for a worst-case scenario amid a controversial national-security law, major mainland billionaires are coming in. The latest to do so: William Ding of NetEase Inc. and JD.com Inc.’s Richard Liu, whose companies completed secondary listings there last month. They follow Jack Ma, whose Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. stock issuance in November was the city’s largest since 2010.

Together, the three moguls’ firms have raised $20 billion from share sales in the former British colony, and that may be just the start of a new wave of listings by mainlanders.

“Chinese billionaires’ tech companies are helping the capital market in Hong Kong for a pivotal change and secure its Asia financial hub status,” said Edward Au, managing director of the southern region at Deloitte China. “The city’s stock exchange is also trying to make it a more appealing destination for new-economy companies.”

The national-security law that was approved on Tuesday is threatening to erode Hong Kong’s judicial independence from the mainland, a key part of the city’s appeal to international companies and investors. The U.S. has already started to make it harder to export sensitive American technology to Hong Kong.

While Chinese billionaires have myriad reasons for pursuing listings there — including a less welcoming political environment in the U.S. — their choice of the city over alternatives on the mainland may help ease concerns that the former British colony risks losing its status as a financial center.

Chinese tech tycoons with companies trading in the city now have a combined net worth of $182 billion, more than the 10 richest people in Hong Kong, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. For them, Hong Kong is becoming increasingly appealing as Chinese companies listed in the U.S. face growing scrutiny and potential delistings following an accounting scandal at Luckin Coffee Inc. and mounting tensions between the world’s two largest economies.

JD.com and NetEase have raised a combined $7 billion with their secondary listings last month — almost two-thirds of the total for Hong Kong in the first half of the year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Deloitte expects that as many as six Chinese companies currently traded in the U.S. will choose the city for a second listing by year-end. Robin Li’s Baidu Inc. is among those weighing that option.

The city eased listing rules in 2018 to attract companies such as smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp. and Meituan Dianping, China’s largest on-demand food delivery service. The move could eventually reshape the composition of the benchmark Hang Seng Index, according to Deloitte’s Au. In May, the index manager announced new criteria to allow companies such as Alibaba to be included in the gauge.

“The influx of these companies will greatly increase the representation of new-economy companies in Hong Kong, adding vibrancy and diversity to the market,” said Louis Lau, partner at KPMG China’s capital markets advisory group. “The continued listing of mega-sized Chinese firms also reinforces Hong Kong’s position as Asia’s financial hub.”

Bloomberg

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.