Chinese regulator plans reforms on IPO sponsors

Updated: 2012-03-07 11:21


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BEIJING - The China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) is considering starting reforms on rules governing sponsors of initial public offerings (IPOs) this year, a CSRC official said Tuesday.

Zhu Congjiu, assistant chairman of the CSRC, spoke to Xinhua on the sidelines of the annual session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee, China's top political advisory body.

"Even though the sponsor system has played a significant role in improving the quality of listed companies' prospectus disclosures since its adoption, there is room for improvement," Zhu said.

The proposed reform of the sponsor system will cover the entire process of sponsorship, and major participants and sponsors' institutions will also have to take detailed responsibility for their endorsement of an IPO, said Zhu, who is also a political advisor.

Since 2004, Chinese companies seeking an IPO on the stock exchange in Shanghai or Shenzhen have been required to obtain the endorsement of a qualified sponsor, whose duty is to make sure financial data and other information provided in IPO prospectuses are truthful.

An underwriter often acts as the sponsor of an IPO, as well.

The system has been under increasing pressure in recent years as the credibility of information disclosed by listed firms and the diligence of their sponsors are sometimes questioned by investors.

Sponsors are usually required to buy back shares of a company to stop the debut price from falling below the offer price, and sometimes sponsors have not conducted on-site due diligence before signing off on the endorsement of an IPO.

According to a proposal to the top political advisory body, China Zhi Gong Party, a non-Communist party, also called for swift reform in the sponsor system, which drew the most complaints from the brokerage industry.

Zhu said the proposed reform will stipulate separate responsibilities for brokerage institutions, accounts, corporate counsels and issuers, with timely punishment for those who do not conduct due diligence for the endorsement or engage in unlawful activities.