China’s Shenzhen Exchange to Review Startup Venue Amid Slump

  • ChiNext saw lowest closing level since September 2015
  • Bourse will also push ahead with trial on ETF options

The Shenzhen Stock Exchange said it would study plans to change the rules on its ChiNext market for small companies, as the startup venue headed to its lowest level since 2015.

The bourse said the move is to better service innovation and entrepreneurship, according to a statement posted on its website Monday. It didn’t provide further details. Among other key tasks for the year, the exchange said it will push ahead with a trial for options on exchange-traded funds, and try to boost risk controls and supervision of the smaller market.

ChiNext, which opened in 2009 and has 580 listed companies, was an attempt by Chinese authorities to create a public venue for small businesses with growth potential. The bourse has suffered recently, falling 6.7 percent this year, and is 54 percent below its all-time high. Guangdong Wens Foodstuffs Group Co., China’s top pig breeder, has the largest presence on the ChiNext Price Index, the exchange’s benchmark gauge.

“Reform of ChiNext will probably focus on attracting more high-tech and innovative companies,” said Ken Chen, a Shanghai-based analyst with KGI Securities Co.

Chen said the changes might center on allowing more initial public offerings. China had 635 IPO applications awaiting approval as of Jan. 12, while just 78 companies started trading at ChiNext in 2016.

The gauge dropped suddenly Monday afternoon, declining as much as 6.1 percent before recovering some of its losses. The benchmark indexes in Shanghai and Shenzhen saw similar falls. Traders pointed to concern that regulators will accelerate the pace of IPOs, already at a 19-year high, diverting liquidity from existing shares.

The official Xinhua News Agency said in a commentary over the weekend that a “normalization” of first-time share sales could help companies raise money more efficiently.

ChiNext was an emblem of China’s soaring stocks in 2015, with the ChiNext Price Index closing at 3,982.25 on June 3, 2015. While the benchmarks in Shanghai and Shenzhen have also failed to recapture their June 2015 highs, both are about 40 percent lower than their peaks, better than ChiNext. The startup gauge closed down 3.6 percent Monday, at its lowest level since Sept. 15, 2015.

— With assistance by Gary Gao

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