Three state-owned Chinese corporate giants announced plans Friday to remove their shares from the New York Stock Exchange amid a dispute between Washington and Beijing over whether US regulators can see records of their auditors.
PetroChina Ltd, China Life Insurance Ltd and China Petroleum & Chemical Co. cited the small trading volume of their shares in New York and said they still would be traded in Hong Kong, which is open to non-Chinese investors. None mentioned the auditing dispute.
The announcements add to moves seen by some as decoupling or disengagement between the United States and China, the two biggest economies, due to tensions over technology and security.
American regulators have warned some of China's biggest companies including e-commerce giant Alibaba Group might be forced to leave US exchanges unless Beijing agrees to allow their audit records. American officials say other governments have agreed to this process, which is required by US law. They say China and Hong Kong are the only holdouts.
Chinese officials said earlier talks were making progress. US officials say major issues remain unresolved. Friday's announcement follows moves by Chinese companies that are increasing the role of Hong Kong in connecting them with foreign investors.
China's biggest ride-hailing service, Didi Chuxing, left the New York Stock Exchange on June 10 and joined the Hong Kong exchange. The world's biggest e-commerce company, Alibaba Group, announced plans in July to upgrade the status of its shares traded in Hong Kong, making them accessible to mainland investors.
PetroChina, China Life and China Petroleum & Chemical, widely known as Sinopec, said the shares affected were American depositary shares, or ADSs, that represent shares traded in Hong Kong. They said ADS owners can trade them for Hong Kong-traded shares.
Private companies including Alibaba raised money on US stock exchanges because they were largely shut out of the Chinese financial system, which serves state-owned companies.
By contrast, the three companies that announced Friday they were leaving the New York exchange indicated the American market had little importance to them. Shares traded in China and Hong Kong represent the bulk of their market value.