China slashes red tape for IPOs

China slashes red tape for IPOs

Mainland authorities have recently stepped up moves to attract listings of big tech firms, including launching a new technology board in Shanghai in July, as the country's economy has stuttered to its slowest rate of growth since the early 1990's. Photo/Reuters

Chinese lawmakers agreed Saturday to slash red tape for initial public offerings, approving an amendment to the country's securities law that also aims to better protect investors and prevent insider trading.

Mainland authorities have recently stepped up moves to attract listings of big tech firms, including launching a new technology board in Shanghai in July, as the country's economy has stuttered to its slowest rate of growth since the early 1990's.

"This amendment is a big breakthrough as it cuts red tape and the cost for companies when going public," said Dong Dengxin, director of the Finance and Securities Institute at Wuhan University of Science and Technology.

"It is the most significant revision of the Securities Law in history."

The new registration-based IPO system in the newly amended law -- which comes into effect on March 1, 2020 -- requires strict information disclosures from companies seeking to list.

The listings however do not need approval from the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), according to a draft law published Saturday.

It has also removed the need for companies to be profitable before listing.

The revised law includes better protection for minority investors, said Gong Fanrong, director of the finance committee legal team under China's National People's Congress.

It calls for companies to establish dispute resolution mechanisms to address shareholder grievances and improve transparency, he added.

Companies found guilty of making false or misleading statements or withholding important information from shareholders could face penalties ranging from one to 10 million yuan ($ 143,000 to $1.4 million).

It also includes tougher punishments for securities fraud and insider trading.

Individuals found guilty of insider trading will be fined two to ten times the value of their ill-gotten gains.

Intermediaries and professional services firms found guilty of faking information during IPOs will be fined two million to 20 million yuan, compared to 300,000 to 600,000 yuan at present.

The law also says securities industry employees, including regulators and those who work for brokerages or stock exchanges are barred from trading in stocks.

Lawmakers have debated amendments to China's securities law for nearly five years.

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