World Economy

HK Investors Demand More Oversight

HK Investors Demand More OversightHK Investors Demand More Oversight

After $35 billion in market value was erased from three Hong Kong-listed companies over two days, investors are asking if the city’s regulator should have done more to prevent the sudden selloff, NewsNow reported.

Goldin Financial Holdings Ltd. and Goldin Properties Holdings Ltd., controlled by billionaire Pan Sutong, plunged more than 40 percent Thursday. A day earlier, Hanergy Thin Film Power Group Ltd. tumbled 47 percent in 24 minutes before trading in the Chinese solar company’s shares was suspended. The stocks, which had surged at least 500 percent in the 12 months before the rout, can also be bought and sold by mainland investors through an exchange link.

The volatility illustrates the need for regulators to keep pace with the boom in China’s stock markets. In Hong Kong, the Securities and Futures Commission and the bourse operator share the task of trying to weed out stock manipulation while also encouraging the equity market to play a bigger role in boosting economic expansion.

“Should the stock exchange focus on business or regulation?” Paul Chan, the Hong Kong-based chief investment officer for Asia ex-Japan at Invesco Ltd., said Thursday. “It cannot promote and regulate at the same time. The current management definitely wants more growth. When retail investors are upset, they protest. When foreign investors get burnt they will never come back.”

 Share Losses

While mainland authorities have cracked down on manipulation and insider trading in an effort to reduce risks as the rally lured a record number of novice investors, Hong Kong’s SFC hasn’t publicly stepped up its intervention in the city’s equity market this year. The Hang Seng Composite Index has surged in 2015 as the Shanghai and Shenzhen rallies spilled over and investors bet that dual-listed stock valuations would catch up with their mainland counterparts.

Goldin Financial’s 43 percent drop on Thursday wiped out $12 billion in market value while Goldin Properties, down 41 percent, shrank by $4.6 billion. Hanergy investors lost $19 billion on Wednesday before the trading halt.

Goldin Financial added 2.2 percent at 1:48 p.m. in Hong Kong, while Goldin Properties climbed 6 percent. Goldin Group’s operations are functioning normally, its financial position is stable and neither company is aware of any reason for the price swings, iPR Ogilvy & Mather, which manages both firms’ external media relations, said by e-mail Thursday.

 Small Investors

Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd. spokesman Scott Sapp declined to comment on any regulatory action or individual stock price changes. Ernest Kong, a spokesman for the SFC, also declined to comment.

The volatility will hurt individual investors, and Hong Kong’s regulator should take timely action to curb manipulation, according to Niklas Hageback, who helps oversee about $225 million at Valkyria Kapital Ltd.

While the commission’s Chairman Carlson Tong has pledged to clamp down on “any unusual share movement,” he said it’s “natural to have a lot of market volatility” following recent capital inflows into Hong Kong’s open market, the South China Morning Post reported May 13.