HONG KONG- Chinese authorities will address the concerns of international investors when finalising new rules for offshore listings, two sources quoted a senior regulatory official as telling a lobby group for foreign financial firms.
Western banks have been rattled by proposed rules for overseas listings announced by the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) last December that they see as cumbersome. There is also no clarity on whether there will be a single point of regulatory contact for mainland companies wanting to list overseas or in Hong Kong.
Given concerns in the market, "we definitely need a very clear direction of action," Shen Bin, the director-general of the CSRC's international department told a virtual meeting of the Asia Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (ASIFMA) on Thursday, according to the sources.
Shen added that there was a very strong consensus among different authorities in China about supporting capital markets, the sources said.
His comments come on the heels of remarks from Chinese Vice Premier Liu He who on Wednesday gave assurances that China would pursue market-friendly policies and said caution was needed about the introduction of measures that risked hurting markets.
Liu's remarks, which also touched upon Beijing's efforts to reach an agreement on a thorny bilateral dispute over audits of U.S.-listed Chinese firms, spurred huge rallies in the stocks of Chinese firms with overseas listings.
The CSRC did not immediately comment. ASIFMA, which counts 52 global banks and other financial institutions among its members, declined to comment. The sources declined to be identified as they were not authorised to discuss the meeting.
The CSRC's proposed rules included a requirement that banks which manage a Chinese firm's offshore listing register with the regulator. That fanned concerns about an increase in compliance burdens and other regulatory risks, and there were also concerns that companies could be subject to multiple regulatory checks.
In feedback to the CSRC on the draft rules, ASIFMA had said the proposed guidelines would "greatly impact the willingness of offshore securities companies and professionals to participate in Chinese companies' offshore listings".
Further muddying the situation, the Cyberspace Administration of China in January also announced rules requiring a security review of all platform companies with data of more than 1 million users before they list overseas.
The comments from Liu and Shen come amid a murkier outlook for the world's second-largest economy. Investors are fretting about blowback from Beijing's dealings with sanctions-hit Russia, uncertainty in global demand, the impact of a broad regulatory crackdown and a recent spike in domestic COVID-19 cases.
Shen did not say if there would be significant revisions to the CSRC rules or when they would be finalised and published.
(Reporting by Selena Li in Hong Kong and Samuel Shen in Shanghai; Editing by Sumeet Chatterjee and Edwina Gibbs)