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China Lets Insurers Invest in Stocks of Shenzhen-Listed Startups

China has started allowing insurers to invest in startups listed on the Nasdaq-like ChiNext board in Shenzhen as part of measures to support economic restructuring and smaller companies.

Insurers can invest in the stocks effective immediately, subject to certain criteria, the China Insurance Regulatory Commission said in a statement on its website yesterday. Insurers should exercise caution when approaching these investments and disclose their holdings should they reach or exceed 5 percent, according to the statement.

The ChiNext market, an alternative for smaller Chinese companies looking to raise funds, was created in 2009 and has fewer listing requirements than China’s two main boards. The ChiNext Price Index surged 83 percent last year, after posting two consecutive annual losses, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Among the criteria, insurers are prohibited from investing in companies under regulatory investigation, that have been punished in the past year or have been censured by the stock exchange, according to the statement. They also can’t invest in companies suspected of being involved in stock manipulation, or whose auditors have refused to endorse their financial statements, the commission said.

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