NYSE to no longer delist 3 major Chinese telecom firms in sudden reversal

People wearing face masks to protect against the spread of the coronavirus talk on their cellphones near a booth for Chinese telecommunications firm China Mobile at the PT Expo in Beijing on Oct. 14, 2020. China said Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021, that it would take necessary countermeasures in response to the New York Stock Exchange's announcement that it would delist three major Chinese telecoms, in the latest flare-up of tensions between Beijing and Washington. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect the New York Stock Exchange will no longer delist three Chinese firms, reversing a decision first reported Jan. 2. 

The New York Stock Exchange said it no longer intends to delist three Chinese telecom giants that have been targeted by U.S. President Donald Trump’s outgoing administration, in a shock reversal of an announcement made only last week.

The exchange said in a statement it had made the decision “in light of further consultation with relevant regulatory authorities.”

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It had said on Thursday it would delist China Mobile Ltd , China Telecom Corp Ltd and China Unicom Hong Kong Ltd following U.S. government moves to block investment in 35 firms deemed to be owned or controlled by the Chinese military.

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Hong Kong-listed shares in the firms surged on the announcement, with China Unicom up 6.7%, while China Mobile and China Telecom each gained 5%.

“(It) shows how little light there is in that set of regulatory guidance so far, especially around the time the U.S. is changing administrations,” said Tariq Dennison, managing director at GFM Asset Management in Hong Kong.

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Dennison’s funds hold China Mobile shares in both Hong Kong and New York, but he has largely unwound New York positions recently, partly to find U.S. clients investments that are less exposed to Sino-U.S. tensions which will probably persist.

“I don’t think Biden will magically de-escalate anything,” Dennison said.

“He is inheriting a position of tension in U.S.-China relations where he will probably not want his first 100 days to be remembered for instant concessions.”

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China Unicom and China Telecom said in statements that they had taken note of the development and would release information in accordance with regulations, adding that investors should pay attention to investment risks.

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A representative for China Mobile was not immediately available for comment.

A representative for the NYSE declined to comment beyond the bourse’s statement.

China’s foreign ministry had called the planned delisting of the three companies “unwise” and denounced what it said were “random, arbitrary and uncertain” rules.

The NYSE’s latest announcement briefly boosted an already rising Chinese yuan to a new 30-month high on hopes it might herald some kind of easing in geopolitical tension.

(Reporting by Tom Westbrook, Se Young Lee and Pei Li; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

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