FOR a country that is hugely proud of its high-flying tech firms, China has a funny way of showing it. None of its internet giants—not Alibaba, nor Tencent, nor Baidu—is listed on the domestic stockmarket. Rules that were supposed to help investors have had the perverse effect of forcing firms to go public abroad, mostly in America. The result is that most people in China cannot buy stocks in the country’s biggest, most innovative companies. But change is finally at hand. In the coming weeks China is expected to start letting these firms list some of their shares at home. If handled well—a big if—it would be a boon for the young stockmarket.
China’s tech darlings initially went abroad because it was their only real option. Chinese regulations forbid dual-class shares, a structure favoured by tech entrepreneurs because it means they can raise capital while retaining control. Companies must also have three years of profits before going public. This is a stumbling block for tech…Continue reading