Tencent-backed KE Holdings gets nod for dual-primary listing in Hong Kong, shares to start trading next week

·3-min read

Chinese property agency KE Holdings is seeking a dual-primary listing in Hong Kong, joining a slew of Chinese firms listing closer to home as they face possible delisting from US exchanges.

The Tencent-backed company said that it has received the go-ahead from Hong Kong stock exchange to list its class A ordinary shares on the main board by way of introduction. The shares will start trading from May 11 under the stock code “2423”, the company said in an exchange filing on Thursday.

The operator of housing platforms Beike Zhaofang and Lianjia is the latest US-listed Chinese firm to turn to Hong Kong amid rising delisting risks, as they are embroiled in uncertainties surrounding an audit oversight law by Washington.

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The development comes as KE was identified by the US Securities and Exchange Commission under the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act (HFCAA) on April 21, according to The Paper, a Chinese digital media outlet.

KE Holdings operates housing platforms Beike Zhaofang and Lianjia. Photo: Weibo
KE Holdings operates housing platforms Beike Zhaofang and Lianjia. Photo: Weibo

The HFCAA, enacted during the twilight of Donald Trump’s administration, requires US-listed foreign companies to comply with audit inspection rules under the Public Companies Accounting Oversight Board, or face expulsion from American stock exchanges after three consecutive years of non-compliance.

The listing will follow other Chinese firms that have returned to Hong Kong for secondary listings or are transitioning to dual-primary listings, such as Alibaba Group Holding, JD.com and Baidu.

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In March, New York-listed Nio, an electric-carmaker, became the latest mainland Chinese company to list in Hong Kong by way of introduction.

Nasdaq-listed short video platform Bilibili said on Monday that it will convert its secondary listing status in Hong Kong into a dual-primary listing by October 3.

A dual-primary listing will enable the company to potentially be included in the Stock Connect schemes, a mutual market-access mechanism that allows mainland Chinese investors to trade Hong Kong stocks and vice versa. This option is not available to companies listed through secondary flotations.

KE’s revenue jumped 14.6 per cent to 80.8 billion yuan (US$12.2 billion) in 2021. However, it recorded a net loss of 525 million yuan last year compared with a profit of 2.8 billion yuan the previous year, according to its exchange filings.

It facilitated over 4.5 million housing transactions with an aggregate gross transaction value of 3.85 trillion yuan last year.

A file photo of KE Holdings’ founder Zuo Hui, who died in May last year. Photo: Bloomberg
A file photo of KE Holdings’ founder Zuo Hui, who died in May last year. Photo: Bloomberg

Propitious Global – which controls a trust for immediate family members of Zuo Hui, the founder of KE Holdings who died in May last year – owns a 23.3 per cent stake in the company. Tencent-affiliated entities own a 10.8 per cent stake. Their shareholdings will remain unchanged after the listing, as no new shares are being sold.

KE Holdings fell 0.6 per cent to US$14.41 overnight in New York. It has fallen 28.4 per cent so far this year, extending a 67.3 per cent slump in 2021.

Subsidiaries of Goldman Sachs and China International Capital Corporation are the joint sponsors, who are also acting as designated securities dealer and alternate securities dealer, respectively.

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