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Didi shares surge despite plan to delist from the U.S.

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Didi shares soared as much as 14% in U.S. premarket trading Friday after the company announced plans to delist from the New York Stock Exchange and pursue a listing in Hong Kong instead.

Shares of the Chinese ride-hailing giant have been hammered by regulatory woes in its home country ever since its initial public offering in the U.S. earlier this year. The stock is down about 40% from its initial listing price.

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Didi’s share price was last up 6% Friday just after 6 a.m. ET.

The company said Thursday it will delist from the New York Stock Exchange “immediately” and begin preparations for a separate listing in Hong Kong. U.S. shares are to be converted into “freely tradeable shares” on another international exchange, according to a statement.

Investors may be hoping for a smooth transition of Didi’s U.S.-listed shares to Hong Kong. The move by Didi to go ahead with the delisting rules out the risk of it being forced to do by regulators.

Neil Campling, global TMT analyst at Mirabaud Equity Research, said Didi shares were likely surging due to technical reasons. Short sellers — who bet on the price of a stock sinking — may choose to exit their positions with buy orders rather than play the waiting game, according to Campling.

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“Risk of a delisting could trigger some technical cover trades as shorts may seek to close their positions rather than deal with hassles of waiting out delisting time with custodians,” he said in a note Friday morning.

Daniel Ives, managing director of Wedbush Securities, said the delisting was “just another black eye for Chinese tech stocks.”

“The Street remains very various of Chinese tech stocks and this Didi situation is another cautionary tale,” Daniel Ives, managing director of Wedbush Securities, told CNBC, adding Didi shareholders would likely rotate to another SoftBank-backed company, Grab, to play the Asian mobility market.

Grab went public Thursday following a deal with the special-purpose acquisition company Altimeter Growth Corp. Shares of the Singapore-based ride-hailing and food delivery firm lost more than a fifth of their value by the closing bell.

China’s tech crackdown

Regulators in Beijing have been flexing their muscles in an attempt to keep big Chinese internet companies in line. The clampdown began with Alibaba founder Jack Ma and his fintech company Ant Group, whose IPO was suspended late last year following critical comments from the Chinese tech billionaire on regulators.

Beijing’s tech crackdown soon moved to other areas, including ride-hailing. Chinese regulators had reportedly raised concerns with the security of Didi’s data ahead of the company’s IPO in June. Two days after its debut, Didi was hit with a review from Beijing’s cyberspace agency. A week later, officials ordered Chinese app stores to remove Didi’s main app.

According to a Bloomberg report last week, Chinese regulators asked the firm’s executives to come up with a plan to delist from the U.S. Didi declined to comment at the time.

Meanwhile, Washington is also seeking to tighten restrictions on Chinese companies floating on American exchanges. On Thursday, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission finalized rules allowing it to delist foreign stocks for failing to meet audit requirements.

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