Shanghai Fund Manager Dumps All Holdings in ‘Insane’ Market

Updated on
Global Market Turmoil From China's Yuan Devaluation
  • Shanghai Heqi Tongyi forced to liquidate holdings amid plunge
  • CSI 300 declines more than 7%, triggering circuit-breaker

A Shanghai fund dumped all its holdings as Chinese shares tumbled and triggered a circuit-breaker that halted trading in the world’s second-biggest stock market.

“This is insane,” Chen Gang, chief investment officer at Shanghai Heqi Tongyi Asset Management Co., said in an interview on Thursday. “We were forced to liquidate all our holdings this morning,” said Chen, whose firm manages about 300 million yuan ($45.5 million).

China’s CSI 300 Index plunged 7.2 percent before trading was halted by automatic circuit-breakers for the second time this week, after a weaker-than-estimated yuan fixing fueled concern that slowing economic growth is prompting authorities to guide the currency lower. Many private funds and hedge funds in China have agreements with investors spelling out mandatory liquidation levels if their holdings drop below a certain value.

Chinese regulators have imposed a limit on the amount of stock major corporate shareholders can sell as authorities move to curb the nation’s market rout. The CSRC capped the size of stakes that major investors are allowed to sell at 1 percent of a company’s shares for three months effective Jan. 9, the regulator said in a statement on Thursday. The restriction replaces an existing six-month ban on any secondary market stock sales that is due to expire Friday, it said.

‘Couldn’t Be Worse’

Chen, who commented before the CSRC announced its new caps, said he “won’t consider getting back into the market until that overhang is gone and CSRC improves its circuit-breaker system, for instance by extending the 15-minute break to half an hour.”

The Shanghai Heqi Tongyi manager, whose fund started mid-year in 2015, regretted the timing of its launch and said it “couldn’t be worse.” Chen isn’t alone in criticizing the circuit-breaker rule introduced Monday, which many say exacerbates a liquidity squeeze as investors rush for the exits before trading halts kick in. Under the new rule, a drop of 5 percent suspends trading for 15 minutes, while a decline of 7 percent halts the market for the rest of the day.

“A trading break of 15 minutes or even longer wouldn’t ease their nerves or get them a clear picture of the fundamentals,” said Polar Zhang, a Beijing-based analyst at BOC International Holdings Ltd. “On the contrary, it’s draining liquidity as everybody tries to get out of the door before the door is closed. ”

If CSRC doesn’t improve the mechanism, Zhang said he expects to cut trading volume by 20 percent.

About 100 stock-focused Chinese private funds have lost more than 10 percent in the most recent month, according to Howbuy Investment Management Co. , which tracks such data. Most of the funds most recently updated numbers in December. Almost 1,300 Chinese hedge funds liquidated amid China’s $5 trillion stock selloff during the summer as the value of their equity holdings fell below mandatory levels agreed with investors, according to Howbuy.