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Regulator vows to speed up IPOs

Li Xiang
Updated: Feb 27,2017 7:16 AM     China Daily

China’s top securities regulator vowed on Feb 26 to facilitate more market-oriented share offerings while keeping market manipulation and other illegal activities under tighter scrutiny.

Liu Shiyu, chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, said the regulator will accelerate the pace of IPO approvals, signaling the CSRC’s intention to reduce government intervention in share sales and allow the market to play a bigger role.

Liu rejected the regulator’s previous practice of freezing IPO approvals to stabilize stock prices amid major downturns and pledged “new progress and breakthroughs” in key reforms.

“The mainstream view is that ... the market is ready for faster approval of IPOs with an appropriate pace and amount,” Liu told reporters at a news conference on Feb 26.

The securities chief said the increase in the number of good-quality listed companies will attract additional capital into the market, dismissing concerns that more new shares will drain liquidity and depress stock prices.

Liu’s comments were seen as fresh evidence of the regulator’s desire to push market-driven IPO reform and to shorten the line of more than 600 companies waiting to float shares.

“Liu seems to be the first CSRC chief to publicly denounce the practice of shutting down the IPO market whenever there is a crisis,” said Dong Dengxin, a finance professor at Wuhan University of Science and Technology.

“His comments could herald the real beginning of a gradual end of government intervention, and they also mean that turning the IPO approval on and off at the regulator’s will is likely come to an end,” Dong said.

The reform of the IPO system has long been a thorny issue for the Chinese regulator. The pace and procedure for companies to sell shares in the stock market, including the timing and pricing of the IPOs, has been tightly controlled. Companies usually have to wait for months or even years to float shares in the public market.

The regulator suspended IPO approvals and postponed reform as it sought to stem the dramatic market rout in the summer of 2015. But in recent months, it has noticeably sped up the pace of approvals.

Hong Hao, chief strategist at BOCOM International, said Liu’s comments signaled a major attitude shift by the regulator, and easing the IPO approval will help rein in rampant speculation in the market.

On Feb 26, the securities chief also pledged to continue the crackdown on manipulation and illegal activities by the “big financial crocodiles” and “barbarians”.

“There is only a half-step distance between being a financial mogul and being a financial crocodile,” Liu said, warning that any market malpractice leaves evidence.

In addition to pushing key reforms, the CSRC vowed to further open up the Chinese capital market.

Fang Xinghai, vice-chairman of the CSRC, said the government plans to increase stakes held by foreign financial institutions in their local joint ventures. Fang added there is a desire for capital market opening under bilateral agreements, given negotiation of investment treaties with the United States and the European Union.

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