SEC temporarily halts approvals of new Chinese IPOs after Didi debacle
New York (CNN Business)The Securities and Exchange Commission has told its staff to ask for more disclosures from Chinese companies seeking to go public in the United States before it will approve any plans for them to sell shares.
The announcement Friday, first reported by Reuters, shows regulators are taking a much more cautious stance on Chinese companies looking to sell shares in America following the disastrous meltdown of ridesharing giant Didi Global.
Didi's stock has plunged more than 30% from its initial public offering price of $14 a share, and is trading at nearly half the peak of above $18 that it hit on its IPO day.
China's scrutiny on the company is part of a wider push by the government to exert more control over its homegrown tech giants, many of whom have chosen to go public in New York instead of Hong Kong or Shanghai.
The US-listed shares of Alibaba (BABA), its e-commerce rival JD (JD), social media giant Tencent (TCEHY), search engine Baidu (BIDU) and electric car company Nio (NIO) have all tumbled between 10% and 20% in the past month on concerns about even stricter regulations from China, and potentially the US as well.
"In light of the recent developments in China...I have asked staff to seek certain disclosures from offshore issuers associated with China based operating companies before their registration statements will be declared effective," said SEC chair Gary Gensler in a statement.
The SEC is specifically concerned about Chinese companies that are structured as so-called Variable Interest Entities (VIEs). Although they're based in China, these companies are set up as an offshore shell company — often in tax-friendly places like the Cayman Islands — to issue stock.
In addition to lower taxes, companies registering their businesses outside of China typically have been able to get speedier approval from regulators in the US for IPOs.
But Gensler said he wants these companies to disclose more information explaining that investors are not directly buying shares of a company headquartered in China, as well as more details about the relationship between the shell company and the parent firm.
He's also looking for more disclosure about the risks these companies face as a result of any regulatory changes made by the Chinese government in the future and wants the companies to include more detailed financial information.
Gensler also said Friday that he has asked SEC staffers "to engage in targeted additional reviews of filings for companies with significant China-based operations."
"I believe these changes will enhance the overall quality of disclosure in registration statements of offshore issuers that have affiliations with China-based operating companies," Gensler said.
The Securities and Exchange Commission has told its staff to ask for more disclosures from Chinese companies seeking to go public in the United States before it will approve any plans for them to sell shares.
In First Massive Cyberattack, China Targets Israel
A coordinated cyberattack, which most likely originated in China, hit dozens of Israeli government and private organizations, according to an announcement Monday by the international cybersecurity company FireEye.
This is the first documented case of a large-scale Chinese attack on Israel. It was part of a broader campaign that targeted many other countries, including Iran, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Thailand. FireEye has been monitoring the operation for two years.
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According to the company’s report, the Israeli targets included state bodies and as well as private organizations from the fields of shipping, high-tech, telecommunications, defense, academia and information technology.
By analyzing the hacking tools used and comparing them to similar attacks in the past, FireEye concluded that Chinese intel services and their Ministry of State Security was behind the attack.
China's cyber attack on Israel
Massive cyberattack by China's intelligence against Israel
Dozens of state and private Israeli orgs - including defense bodies
What was stolen:
Data, emails and hundreds of documents
Tech theft and business intelligence
Exploiting loophole in servers
IT companies were particularly sought-after targets because they are what is known as a supply chain threat – meaning that through them, the hackers can reach many other companies. The attacks were aimed at stealing know-how, commercial secrets and business intelligence.
Sanaz Yashar, who led FireEye’s investigation into Israeli targets, said that one possible factor in the attacks is China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which is meant to create a continuous land and water route around the world for Chinese products. This initiative “is connected with huge infrastructure projects in which China is involved, including in Israel, like ports or railroads,” she explained.
“Another Chinese interest in Israel is its technology sector,” Yashar said. “There are a lot of Israeli companies that are involved in the very fields at the core of Chinese interests, as reflected in their five-year plans.
“Their goal isn’t necessarily always to steal intellectual property; it’s possible that they’re actually looking for business information,” she added. “In the Chinese view, it’s legitimate to attack a company while negotiating with it, so they will know how to price the deal properly.
“When the Chinese do business, they don’t enter the contract with their eyes shut. They examine the other offers, the board of directors’ emails, correspondence among people, what the intrigues are and who the key people are.”
Yashar said the Chinese are most likely interested in know-how in fields such as cybersecurity, renewable energy, agricultural technologies and 5G communications. “Anyone who does business with China also interests them,” she added.
The hackers mainly took email correspondence and documents, Yashar said. “This attacker was specifically interested in emails, vacuuming up huge quantities of emails. We see that immediately after entering, they mapped the network and looked for document and email servers.”
They also seized usernames and passwords – possibly to be able to reenter the same targets later on, or possibly to enable them to enter different targets.
FireEye is a publicly traded company with a market capitalization of $4 billion. It is considered an important player in the world of intelligence and international investigations.
The Prime Minister’s Office was also involved in the investigation, through coordination between FireEye and governmental cybersecurity experts.
But there has never before been a Chinese campaign of this scope against Israel. Consequently, Israel may be compelled to respond to it.
On July 19, several countries issued an unusually harsh condemnation of China over its massive attack on the Microsoft Exchange mail server. This attack, which was also attributed to the Ministry of State Security, caused enormous damage worldwide. The statement’s signatories included the United States, Australia, New Zealand and the European Union’s member states.
Despite the ongoing American feud with China, Israel has allowed Chinese companies to carry out several major infrastructure projects here, including building a new port in Haifa and the light rail project in the greater Tel Aviv area. However, Israel didn’t grant the Chinese firm Hutchison a permit to buy the mobile operator Partner. And it may have intervened behind the scenes to thwart the sale of the Phoenix insurance company to another Chinese firm, Fosun.
An article published in 2013 by the Chinese website Sohu is going viral on social media. The article explains how Beijing will settle score with their neighbors and re-conquer lost territories which include Taiwan and India.
It may be relevant even today, when “mighty China” has been at loggerheads with the tiny island of Taiwan, and other neighbors, including India, Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam among others over territorial disputes.
China has several state-owned media organizations, which more or less serve as Beijing’s mouthpiece. In addition, there are scores of private media companies, including digital ones, that also have been serving the Chinese Communist Party’s interest by running news, opinion, commentaries in favor of the government for decades.
For the uninitiated, Sohu is a Beijing-based online media, search engine, and game service company that has promoted Chinese government propaganda for years. The tech company was selected as the official sponsor of Internet Content Service for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
The piece Sohu published eight years ago had mentioned 6 “inevitable” wars China will have to engage in between 2020 and 2050. Following is the strategy:
The article raised the need for a war to unify Taiwan with mainland China. It said China must send an ultimatum to Taiwan by 2020 to choose peaceful unification or war.
The likely case, the author wrote, would be a full-scale war with Taiwan. But of course, China need not worry! Without the US or Japan’s intervention, winning this war would be a 3-month ordeal for the mighty PLA.
And with their intervention, it’d last, perhaps till 2025, when, of course, the ferocious Chinese military would return as the victor, the noted.
South China Sea (2025-2030)
After “conquering” Taiwan, China will take a much-deserved two-year rest. Soon, it will send yet another ultimatum to the countries surrounding the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.
The “news” article considered a deadline of 2028 appropriate for this ultimatum. After that, the country will go on “re-conquesting” these islands.
The article expects minimal resistance from South East Asian countries who will, quite obviously, still be shivering due to China’s military prowess shown in Taiwan.
The US, having learned a hard lesson from whatever intervention it tried to do in Taiwan, would not directly confront China, but egg on countries, most likely the Philippines and Vietnam.
If it comes to this, the article states that Beijing’s best option is to declare war on Vietnam, win it, and intimidate other countries to surrender the Spratly islands to it. The prospect of China losing to Vietnam doesn’t exist.
So, by 2030, China would have successfully, and quite thoroughly, extended its influence to the Pacific. In the smooth process of war and recovery from war, the communist nation would have also gained begrudging allies in Southeast Asia.
Southern Tibet (2035-40)
Off to the third war: the “reconquest” of Southern Tibet, a term Beijing uses to denote India’s Arunachal Pradesh that shares a border with Tibet. The article presents an analysis of potential military dealings that India would have with China’s adversaries like the US and Europe.
It suggests that the most efficient strategy would be to incite the disintegration of India – the country that has to date survived all its secessionist movements since its independence.
But if that doesn’t work, the second-best option is to incite India-Pakistan’s fight over Kashmir, and take over Southern Tibet while India is distracted.
Senkaku Islands (2040-2045)
The 4th war is about the unification of the Senkaku (Chinese: Diaoyu) and Okinawa (Chinese: Ryukyu) islands that Japan controls and China claims.
Between 2040 and 2045, the article implies, would be a good time for some more reconquesting. Simple plan: China attacks these “illegally occupied” islands; the US, Europe, and Russia silently watch; the war ends in 6 months (at most), and China scores an overwhelming victory.
Outer Mongolia (2045-2050)
The article says the 5th war will be on Outer Mongolia. Here, the author had unironically dismissed the idea of the unification of Outer Mongolia at present, then 2013, as unrealistic.
But by 2045, given the amount of clout China would have amassed, it would only be a matter of an ultimatum that may or may not be followed by a war. The war, the article quite confidently mentions, will result in Chinese victory, the latest by 2050.
The last stop for China, before gaining global hegemon status, will be Russia. China has lost lands to Russia, and the Russians will have to pay.
The article is quite confident that even when taking on a major nuclear and military power, a former superpower, the victor will be the PLA.
State propaganda is still filling China’s cyberspace. Sometimes it’s to control the populace, and sometimes to boost trust in the country’s military might.
Needless to say, the hypothesis presented by the author borders on fantasy, which could, at best, be adapted into a comic book or video game.