China's Nasdaq-style ChiNext board embraces reform for new bellwethers

Xinhua News,BEIJING
2020-04-29 10:31

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BEIJING, April 29 (Xinhua) -- ChiNext, China's Nasdaq-style board of growth enterprises, will replace its approval-based initial public offering (IPO) system with a registration-based one to better cultivate new industry start-ups and bolster the real economy, in the latest leg of the country's capital market reform.

The China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) and the Shenzhen Stock Exchange Monday proposed the reform for ChiNext, a decade-old board of 807 listed companies and more than 45 million investors, with a focus on information disclosure and transparency.

The reform also includes a series of specific rules in the areas of corporate governance, equity-based incentives and the reduction of holding stocks.

The purposes of the reform include garnering experience for the broader application of the registration-based system and enhancing the capital market's inclusiveness to innovation and start-up firms, said Li Chao, vice chairman of the CSRC.

Piloted at the sci-tech innovation board which started trading in July 2019, the registration-based system, which simplifies and shortens the previously lengthy approval process for IPO issuance, was set to be adopted at other boards as was written into the revised Securities Law effective on March 1.

The reform featured changes like lifting the IPO requirement for no outstanding loss in the period covered by the latest earnings report before application, which analysts say will help direct the capital market to serve the real economy, especially as the country seeks to minimize the economic fallout from the COVID-19 epidemic.

The system will facilitate access to more diverse financing for promising innovation companies in sectors including artificial intelligence, clean energy, new materials, bio-medicine and high-end equipment, said Pan Xiangdong, an economist with brokerage firm New Times Securities.

On the earnings side, the reform requires the ChiNext IPO applicants to gain net profits for two consecutive years to a total of no less than 50 million yuan (about 7.1 million U.S. dollars), which was 10 million yuan before the reform, or maintain net profit growth with operating revenue in the previous year of no less than 100 million yuan.

Much like the sci-tech innovation board, ChiNext will become a major playing field for companies in emerging sectors and thus the bellwether of the entire capital market, said Pan.

Under the reform plan, the daily limit that share prices of ChiNext-listed companies are allowed to rise or fall will be extended from 10 percent to 20 percent, the same as at the sci-tech innovation board. Newly listed stocks will be subject to no such limit for the first five days of trading.

Compared to the sci-tech innovation board, which focuses on tech-intensive industries, the reformed ChiNext will mainly serve growth-oriented innovative and start-up enterprises, support the innovation of mode, service and format, and promote the in-depth integration of traditional industries with new ones.

Brokerages, companies with small to medium market value, and spin-off listings of A-share-listed companies are expected to benefit from the changes, said Pan.

Industry insiders estimate the first batch of companies will debut on the reformed ChiNext board within this year, while the inclusion could be a steady process.

The ChiNext Index reacted positively to news of the reform, closing 0.6 percent higher at 2,030.72 points on Tuesday.
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