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Cablegate: Shenzhen Stock Exchange Startup Board to Open in August

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RR RUEHCN RUEHGH RUEHVC
DE RUEHGZ #0214/01 1020907
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 110907Z APR 08
FM AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7040
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEKJCS/DIA WASHDC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASH DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 GUANGZHOU 000214

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/CM
STATE PASS USTR CHINA OFFICE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EFIN ECON CH
SUBJECT: SHENZHEN STOCK EXCHANGE STARTUP BOARD TO OPEN IN AUGUST

1. (SBU) Summary: The Shenzhen Stock Exchange's much delayed new
board for start-up companies should open sometime around the Beijing
Olympics in August. The board, which will benefit some smaller
firms that find it difficult to raise capital due in part to
Beijing's limits on bank lending, has strict requirements for
listing companies. However, some experts believe that the opening
of the board could be delayed further if market volatility continues
or as one observer said, in this instance, "the government can wait
it out." End summary.

---------------------------
Opening Around the Olympics
---------------------------

2. (SBU) The Shenzhen Stock Exchange may soon get the final go-ahead
to establish the much delayed new board for start-up companies.
Wenhua Dai, the Shenzhen Stock Exchange's Deputy General Manager,
told us March 17 that the new board had received central government
approval. After a public comment period, it should be operational
around the time of the Olympics. First proposed by the Shenzhen
Stock Exchange in 2000, the final decision on the timing of the
board's opening will be made by China's financial regulatory board,
the Chinese Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC). The official
reason given for the most recent delay was to allow time for public
comment. This should take two-to-three months and is one of the
last steps in a complex approval process.

------------------
Financing for SMEs
------------------

3. (SBU) Jane Wu, the Shenzhen Stock Exchange's deputy director for
strategy and international relations, explained to us that the new
board, sometimes called a "NASDAQ-like" board, is intended primarily
to encourage innovation in the Chinese economy. It will also
benefit some smaller firms that are finding it increasingly
difficult to raise capital in the face of Beijing's efforts to
control liquidity. Many smaller companies depend on commercial bank
loans for financing and have been affected by recent restrictions on
such lending. The Shenzhen Stock Exchange already has a Small and
Medium Enterprises Board, which was established in 2004, but its
listing requirements are the same as the main board's. The new
board should give more small and medium enterprises another option
for raising capital.

-------------------
Strict Requirements
-------------------

4. (SBU) Although generally less rigorous than requirements for the
main board, the Chinese government will set strict limits on the
types of companies allowed to join the start-up board. To qualify,
start-ups must have at least RMB 10 million in profits for two
consecutive years, or RMB 5 million in profits plus total revenue of
RMB 50 million in the past year. (Companies seeking to join the
main board must show revenues of at least RMB 30 million for three
consecutive years.) The CSRC also requires--or "strongly
encourages"--that companies joining the new board focus on a single
business sector, preferably some type of innovative technology with
high growth potential. The CSRC has discouraged companies whose
products have long-term research and development requirements from
listing, fearing they won't produce the best returns for investors,
Wu said.

5. (SBU) Another restriction for the new board is on the number of
shares made available for trading. Currently, the main board has a
100-share minimum for trading. The start-up board will have a
300-share minimum. Also, the lockup period (during which investors
cannot sell their shares) on the start-up board is shorter: one year
for investors who come in pre-initial public offering (IPO), and
three years for the company's founding shareholders. On the main
board, an investor's money is locked up for three years without
exception.

--------------------------------
More Volatility, Further Delays?
--------------------------------

6. (SBU) Some experts say the delays in establishing the new board
are due in part to current turmoil in financial markets that could
further postpone its opening. Wu pointed out that the Chinese
government keeps tight control on which companies can be listed on
the main Shenzhen board to preserve the market's value. When the
main Shenzhen board opened, one senior official predicted it would
list 1,000 companies within three years. However, there are fewer
than 500 companies listed on the main board, with few prospects of

GUANGZHOU 00000214 002 OF 002


significant increases in the near future. There have been no new
listings on the main board since 2000. Wu explained that many
companies exceed the regulatory requirements for listing, but the
CSRC cherry-picks the best ones for listing in an attempt to
guarantee ever-increasing stock prices. Professor Wu Lifan, a
finance expert at Guangzhou's Sun Yat-Sen University, told us March
27 that government officials feel personally responsible for the
performance of companies they approve to join the stock exchange.
"It's not a free market," Professor Wu said. "Government officials
are more concerned with their own stability than market stability."


7. (SBU) Shenzhen's composite index is down some 30 percent from its
high for the year in mid-January, but Shenzhen Stock Exchange's Jane
Wu argued the threat of an American recession would have a limited
impact on the new board. She pointed out that overall the Chinese
market is still fairly insular. Nevertheless, given the Chinese
authorities' political concerns about keeping stock prices high, the
opening of the new start-up board of the Shenzhen Stock Exchange
could be further delayed until market conditions improve. Sun
Yat-Sen University's Professor Wu said the board would likely not
open while volatile markets have the potential to drive prices down
and threaten social stability. "The government can wait it out," he
said.

GOLDBERG

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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