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Legend to float non-tradable stocks
Last Updated: 2017-11-28 08:56 | China Daily
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Lenovo parent to spearhead program to boost the availability of H-shares

Legend Holdings Corporation, the parent company of personal computer and smartphone maker Lenovo Group, is said to be one of the two Hong Kong-listed mainland firms chosen for a pilot program to float non-tradable H shares.

The company, listed in Hong Kong in 2015, proposed amendments to its Articles of Association in a statement to the Hong Kong bourse last Monday, allowing "the conversion of all or part of domestic shares into overseas listed foreign shares for listing and trading on overseas stock exchange (s)".

Such a move will pave the way for a trial program to convert the company's non-tradable, Hong Kong-listed stock into free-floating shares.

The State Council is reported to be considering a plan to convert the substantial non-tradable stock held by the big shareholders of Hong Kong-listed mainland firms into ordinary shares that can be sold and bought on the secondary market.

Two Hong Kong-listed mainland companies, including the country's first internet-only insurer Zhong An Online P&C Insurance whose shares surged as much as 18 percent during its trading debut in September, were being considered for the pilot program.

Currently, 80 percent of Zhong An stocks remain non-tradable and are in the hands of major shareholders, including Ant Financial, Tencent Holdings and Ping An Insurance, due to regulatory barriers. Similarly, some 85 percent of Legend Holdings Corporation stocks cannot be freely traded on the secondary market and are held by big shareholders like State-owned Chinese Academy of Sciences Holdings and China Oceanwide Holdings Group.

It appears to be an educated guess that Legend Holdings Corporation is also on the list.

"The full circulation of H-shares is looking to make a big chunk of stocks from 249 such companies available for public trading, which could unlock 2.6 trillion yuan ($394 billion) non-tradable H-shares, equivalent to some 8 percent of the total value of tradable shares in the Hong Kong stock market," said Matthew Kwok, managing director of Hong Kong-based China Goldjoy Asset Management Ltd.

In its latest report, analysts from Bank of America Merrill Lynch projected that some $122 billion of domestic H-shares, equivalent to 2.4 percent of Hong Kong's stock market capitalization are prone for sale, if the trial program is fully rolled out.

"The Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd, the stock market operator, should gain some momentum from the full circulation of H shares, as the pilot program would sharpen Hong Kong's edge as the initial public offering destination for mainland companies," said Kwok.

But shares of some Hong Kong-listed private mainland firms may face "meaningful selling pressure", analysts from Bank of America Merrill Lynch wrote in the report, adding that the program will be carried out in a progressive manner and the whole process may take quite a few years.

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