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China’s Didi to delist from New York and go public in Hong Kong

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Didi Chuxing, the Chinese ride-hailing group hit by Beijing’s regulatory crackdown on technology companies, said it would delist from the New York Stock Exchange in an acceleration of China’s decoupling from US capital markets.

The company wrote on its official Weibo account on Friday that it would begin the process of delisting and prepare to go public in Hong Kong.

The company said its board had authorised the New York delisting of its American depositary shares “while ensuring that ADSs will be convertible into freely tradable shares of the Company on another internationally recognized stock exchange”.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Tech index, which tracks 30 of China’s biggest technology companies, fell as much as 2.4 per cent on Friday following the news. Ecommerce group Alibaba was down 5.3 per cent, food delivery service Meituan dropped 4.8 per cent and internet group Tencent lost 3.2 per cent.

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Regulators ordered Didi’s app to be taken off domestic app stores in July, days after the ride-hailing group raised $4.4bn in the biggest Chinese listing in the US since Alibaba in 2014. The company was also banned from signing up new users.

The initial public offering, which was completed just days before the Chinese Communist party celebrated its centennial, angered party and government officials who felt the group had brushed aside their concerns related to its national security and its vast trove of mapping and other sensitive data.

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Didi launched its New York IPO in the middle of a long-running crackdown on the dominance of China’s biggest technology groups. The regulatory assault began in November 2020, when President Xi Jinping ordered the last-minute halt of the Shanghai and Hong Kong dual listing of Ant Group, Jack Ma’s fintech platform.

Ma, once the country’s richest and most celebrated entrepreneur, had angered Xi and other officials by criticising Chinese financial regulators weeks before the planned IPO, which was set to be the world’s bigger ever.

Since the scuppered listing, Ma, who also founded ecommerce platform Alibaba, has since all but disappeared from public view.

Didi’s rush to delist comes just ahead of the end of a six-month lock-up at the end of December that would allow company executives and almost all of its shareholders to begin dumping shares in New York.

“The government can order something without realising how complicated it is,” said a lawyer in Beijing, who believed Didi’s executives would probably need to contribute their shares to make such a transaction feasible.

Didi said it would hold a shareholder vote on the matter in the future.

Additional reporting by Emma Zhou in Beijing and William Langley in Hong Kong

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