Chinese telcos spared delisting as NYSE backtracks on decision

China Telecom, China Mobile, and China Unicom Hong Kong will continue to be listed and traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

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The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) has reversed course on its planned delisting of a trio of Chinese telcos.

On New Year's Eve, it was announced NYSE intended to delist China Telecom, China Mobile, and China Unicom Hong Kong in order to comply with a 12 November 2020 executive order from outgoing US president Donald Trump.

The order sought to forbid trading and investing in any of the companies previously deemed to be Communist Chinese military companies by the US Department of Defense. It also looked to ban trading in any new companies that are given such a label.

By Monday though, the NYSE had reversed course.

"In light of further consultation with relevant regulatory authorities in connection with Office of Foreign Assets Control FAQ 857 ... the New York Stock Exchange LLC announced today that NYSE Regulation no longer intends to move forward with the delisting action in relation to the three issuers ... which was announced on December 31, 2020," it said in a statement.

"At this time, the issuers will continue to be listed and traded on the NYSE. NYSE Regulation will continue to evaluate the applicability of Executive Order 13959 to these issuers and their continued listing status."

In the executive order, Trump said the People's Republic of China (PRC) was "exploiting United States capital" to boost and update its military, which he claimed would allow Beijing to threaten the US and its overseas forces, as well as develop "advanced conventional weapons and malicious cyber-enabled actions against the United States and its people".

"Through the national strategy of Military-Civil Fusion, the PRC increases the size of the country's military-industrial complex by compelling civilian Chinese companies to support its military and intelligence activities," Trump said.

"Those companies, though remaining ostensibly private and civilian, directly support the PRC's military, intelligence, and security apparatuses and aid in their development and modernisation."

Trump also said the PRC "exploits United States investors" to finance its military.

For its part, the China Securities Regulatory Commission hit back on Sunday and said the ban was politically motivated and ignored the rights of investors while severely damaging the market.

It added that the size of the listings on American markets was under 2.2% of the total shares on offer, so the direct impact of the delisting was "rather limited".

"The role of the US as an international financial centre, is built on the trust of the global enterprises and investors in the inclusiveness and certainty of its rules and institutions," the Commission said.

"The recent move by some political forces in the US to continuously and groundlessly suppress foreign companies listed on the US markets, even at the cost of undermining its own position in the global capital markets, has demonstrated that US rules and institutions can become arbitrary, reckless, and unpredictable. It is certainly not a wise move."

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