What's going on?
Anta Sports, China’s largest sportswear brand and new owner of Amer Sports (of “Wilsooon” fame), was accused of fraud over the weekend – and its stock fell 7% on Monday.
What does this mean?
Anta’s profit margin is twice as large as rivals Nike and Adidas – for whom it once made sneakers. American investment firm Muddy Waters claims that this is due in part to Anta controlling many of its distributors, artificially inflating profits by reporting higher revenues and lower expenses. Muddy Waters is a short-seller: an investor betting on the price of Anta’s stock sinking. But it’s not the first to accuse the Chinese company of improper accounting in recent years.
In Hong Kong, meanwhile, media firm Camsing – owner of Stan Lee’s POW! Entertainment – saw its shares plummet 80% on Monday after its founder and majority shareholder was arrested. While the charges remain unclear, the arrest left investors spooked – and for more reasons than one.
Why should I care?
For markets: Chinese democracy.
The Chinese stock market is opening up to global investors. Not only are direct foreign ownership limits now being scrapped next year, but some Chinese stocks are widely available to buy via overseas depositary receipts. A new London-Shanghai scheme also lets firms listed in the UK and mainland China raise funds through the other’s stock markets. More foreign investment will sharpen the focus on how Chinese companies are run compared to Western counterparts, rewarding firms that are transparent and well-managed – and punishing those where things look murkier.
The bigger picture: Alibaba is moving back to Hong Kong.
Chinese tech giant Alibaba originally listed shares on the Hong Kong stock exchange, but removed them in 2012 ahead of a record-breaking US sale two years later. It’s reportedly planning to raise $20 billion this time around – and with other lesser-known Chinese companies set to follow, Hong Kong will need to make sure its corporate governance game remains up to scratch.