In English we use the phrase ” bee in one’s bonnet” to explain someone with an obsession for a particular point of view. In Chinese, a similar idiom is 挥之不去, meaning you can’t wipe out the stain.
Have a look at this article today by Reuters, about the IPO process in China. To me, the reporters started off this story with a bee in their hats, that China’s domestic IPO industry remains a nest of corruption, manipulation and ominous doings by the regulator, the CSRC. They found someone to quote, and then asked me for my opinion. I shared it across several emails. As you’ll see, I end up being quoted in the article providing something of an antidote to all the negativity. I don’t think, to switch back to the Chinese, I quite wiped away the stain.
Here’s the story that didn’t get reported. In the last five weeks, China’s domestic stock markets had 48 successful IPOs. That is exactly 48 more than China had in all of 2013, and ahead of the successful IPOs so far this year in Hong Kong and the US. In my view, China is on track, as I said in one of those emails to the Reuters reporter, “to shatter all worldwide records for number of IPOs in a year and money raised.”
That’s big news. Instead, the article focuses on a whole lot else that all boils down to dark mutterings, but not a lot of facts, suggesting that insider trading is or may become rife; that there’s some form of “moral hazard” at work here. Hard to refute. Equally hard to confirm.
The one example cited, of the cancelled Jiangsu Aosaikang, is said by a source to be “most heavily intervened IPO in the history of China”. IPOs, for those keeping score, get pulled all the time, everywhere, most often because investors wouldn’t commit to buying all the shares on offer. What happened with the Jiangsu Aosaikang IPO no one can say for sure. But, the quote is just silly.
Until two months ago, all China IPOs involved a level of direct, disclosed, intensive intervention by the CSRC that covered not only the IPO offering price, but included too the CSRC making decisions on which Chinese companies should IPO, when, with what level of profits. This was intervention on a grand, intentional and absolutist scale.
We’re only in the second month of the new IPO regime in China. Things might degenerate. The CSRC and market participants like underwriters are still feeling their way forward. But, there’s ample room for optimism here: a highly-damaging IPO embargo is over, Rmb 30 billion ($5 bn) has been raised, and there’s clearly investor appetite for more new issues. –