Cowed by Chinese regulators, Didi plans to delist from New York months after debut

Ride-hailing giant Didi Global said it will delist from the New York stock exchange just five months after its debut and pursue a listing in Hong Kong - having raised the ire of Chinese regulators for ignoring a request to put its U.S. IPO on hold.


Reuters | Updated: 03-12-2021 12:33 IST | Created: 03-12-2021 10:48 IST
Cowed by Chinese regulators, Didi plans to delist from New York months after debut
Representative image Image Credit: ANI
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Ride-hailing giant Didi Global said it will delist from the New York stock exchange just five months after its debut and pursue a listing in Hong Kong - having raised the ire of Chinese regulators for ignoring a request to put its U.S. IPO on hold. Didi pushed ahead with its $4.4 billion U.S. initial public offering 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 told the company to stop registering new users, citing national security and the public interest. Didi remains under investigation. "Following careful research, the company will immediately start delisting on the New York stock exchange and start preparations for listing in Hong Kong," Didi said on its Twitter-like Weibo account.

It did not explain its reasons for the plan but said in a separate statement that it would organise a shareholder vote at an appropriate time. The upending of Didi's New York listing - likely to be a difficult and messy process - illustrates both the huge clout that Chinese regulators possess and their emboldened approach to wielding it. Billionaire Jack Ma also ran afoul of Chinese authorities leading to the dramatic scuppering of a mega-IPO for Ant Group last year.

It will also likely further discourage Chinese firms from listing in the United States and could prompt some to reconsider their status as U.S. publicly traded companies. "Chinese ADRs face increasing regulatory challenges from both U.S. and Chinese authorities. For most companies, it will be like walking on eggshells trying to please both sides. Delisting will only make things simpler," said Wang Qi, CEO at fund manager at MegaTrust Investment (HK).

Sources have told Reuters that Chinese regulators pressed Didi's top executives to devise a plan to delist from the New York Stock Exchange due to concerns about data security. Listing in Hong Kong might, however, prove complicated.

One key challenge is whether the bourse would willing to approve it given that only 20%-30% of the company's core ride-hailing business in China is fully compliant with regulations requiring three permits, a source with knowledge of the matter said on Friday. The source, who was not authorized to talk to media and declined to be identified, added that this had been the main obstacle to the company conducting an IPO in Hong Kong earlier.

Didi did not immediately respond to Reuter's requests for comment. Sources have also told Reuters that Didi is preparing to relaunch its apps in China by the end of the year in anticipation that Beijing's cybersecurity investigation into the company would be wrapped up by then.

The CAC did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Didi's plans to delist from New York. Didi made its New York debut on June 30 at $14 per American Depositary Share, which gave the company a valuation of $67.5 billion on a non-diluted basis. Those shares have since slid 44% until Thursday's close, valuing it at $37.6 billion.

Shares in Didi investor SoftBank Group Corp fell 2% after the Didi announcement, also hurt by Southeast Asian ride-hailing giant Grab's slump in its Nasdaq debut. SoftBank's Vision Fund owns 21.5% of Didi, followed by Uber Technologies Inc with 12.8%, according to a filing in June by Didi.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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