Just five months after its debut, ridesharing giant Didi Global said it plans to pull out of the New York Stock Exchange and pursue a listing in Hong Kong, a startling reversal as it bowed to Chinese regulators irritated by its initial public offering in the United States.
The company’s shares fell about 15% after swinging between gains and losses in pre-market trading, with investors initially betting the move would appease Beijing and serve as a catalyst for a revival of its business prospects in the country. Shares of the company plunged at the end of the day, closing 22% lower.
“After careful research, the company will immediately begin delisting from the New York Stock Exchange and begin preparations for listing in Hong Kong,” Didi said on his Twitter-like Weibo account on Friday.
Didi did not explain the reasons for his plan, but said in a separate statement that he will hold a shareholder vote at an appropriate time and ensure that his New York-listed shares are convertible into “freely tradable shares.” on another internationally recognized stock exchange.
Sources told Reuters last month that Chinese regulators pressed Didi’s senior executives to develop a plan to delist from the New York Stock Exchange over concerns over data security.
Didi’s board met on Thursday and approved plans for U.S. delisting and Hong Kong listing, two sources familiar with the matter said.
Didi launched a US $ 4.4 billion initial public offering in June, despite being asked to put it on hold while a review of its data practices was conducted.
The powerful Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) then quickly ordered app stores to remove 25 of Didi’s mobile apps and called on the company to stop registering new users, citing national security and interest. public.
Didi, whose apps, in addition to carpooling, offer products such as delivery and financial services, remains under investigation.
Redex Research analyst Kirk Boodry, who posts on Smartkarma, said Didi may have to buy shares at the IPO price of $ 14 to avoid legal issues and that he will at the very least pay more than the current trading price of the shares.
However, there was still uncertainty over what the delisting meant for investors. “There may also be some hope that by doing this, Didi’s management will improve its regulatory relationship, but I’m less confident about that,” Boodry added.
The reversal of Didi’s listing in New York – likely to be a difficult and messy process – illustrates both the enormous influence Chinese regulators have and their bold approach to exerting it.
Billionaire Jack Ma has also clashed with Chinese authorities after he blew up the country’s regulatory system, leading to the spectacular failure of a mega-IPO for Ant Group last year.
Did’s decision will likely further discourage Chinese companies from listing in the United States and may cause some of them to reconsider their status as publicly traded American companies.
“Chinese ADRs face increasing regulatory challenges from US and Chinese authorities. For most businesses, it will be like walking on eggshells trying to please both parties. The delisting will only make things easier, ”said Wang Qi, CEO of fund manager MegaTrust Investment (HK).
Didi plans to register in Hong Kong soon and does not plan to be private, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.
He aims to complete a dual primary listing in Hong Kong within the next three months and withdraw from New York by June 2022, one of the sources said.
The sources were not authorized to speak to the media and refused to be identified. Didi did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Reuters, and ACC is yet to comment on its announcement.
“Shortly after the IPO, US investors attempted to sue DiDi for failing to disclose its ongoing talks with Chinese authorities. It is unlikely to be better taken, ”said William Mileham, equity analyst at Mirabaud. “It looks like DiDi isn’t waiting to be double listed, but may well be delisted from the US before it starts trading on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. “
Listing in Hong Kong, however, could prove to be complicated, especially within a tight three-month deadline, given Didi’s history of compliance issues and the scrutiny he has faced on vehicles without. licensed and part-time drivers.
The Hong Kong Stock Exchange does not comment on individual companies, a spokesperson said. Stocks, however, jumped 4% on the prospect of a Didi listing.
Didi delivered 25 million groceries a day to China in the first quarter, according to its IPO prospectus. It debuted in New York City on June 30 at $ 14 per US custodian share, but those shares had fallen 44% by Thursday’s close, valuing it at $ 37.6 billion.
Its main shareholders are SoftBank’s Vision Fund, with a 21.5% stake, and Uber Technologies Inc, with 12.8%, according to a June filing from Didi.
Sources also told Reuters that Didi was preparing to relaunch its applications in China by the end of the year in anticipation that Beijing’s investigation into the company’s cybersecurity would be completed by then.