Chinese tech firms have fallen out of love with America, and it shows — a growing number of them are looking to drop their listings in New York and head back home.
Many Chinese tech executives are betting on higher share valuations in China where stock markets have recently caught fire. They also hope to evade any legal mess when Beijing formally outlaws foreign shareholder control of firms in protected tech sectors.
An exodus of Chinese tech firms would spell the end of a profitable line of business for Wall Street underwriters. Last year, the $25 billion IPO of e-commerce giant Alibaba generated more than $300 million in fees.
The numbers are hard to resist. China’s tech-driven ChiNext composite index has gained nearly 180 percent this year, eclipsing the 30 percent rise in the Nasdaq OMX China Technology Index that tracks offshore listed mainland firms. Firms listed on the Nasdaq index get an average share price equal to 11 times their earnings. On ChiNext, they get 133 times.
“American investors don’t understand the business model of Chinese gaming companies,” said a senior executive of one such firm planning to eject from New York and move back to a Chinese listing, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Earlier this year, New York-listed Chinese gaming firms Shanda and Perfect World said they would go private, while online dating service Jianyuan.com and medical R&D services provider Wuxi Pharmatech said they are thinking about it.
Analysts expect dozens of lesser-known companies to follow if they can, and they see the pipeline of Chinese companies trying to list in New York drying up.
“The possibility of stirring interest among U.S. investors is slim,” said Shu Yi, CEO of Beijing-based advertising technology company Limei Technology.