Didi Exits NYSE for Hong Kong, China Tightens Tech Control

China is making an investment statement as it attempts to take control of its financial future and set new yen-centric standards for international monetary exchange. Much is being read into Didi Chuxing delisting itself Friday from the New York Stock Exchange, where it raised billions of dollars, capping at $39 billion for the Beijing version of Uber. The message is: with money of its own and a knack for finding more, the world’s No. 2 economy feels it no longer needs Wall Street and says it will relist on the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong.

The move comes with mistrust of Beijing running high among the U.S. and its allies. It also coincides with China exerting increased control over the nation’s own companies, even as it cracks down on foreign operators.

“It is mutual decoupling, but it is also a contest to set the rules by which international intercourse takes place,” WilmerHale law firm partner Lester Ross told The New York Times of Didi’s New York farewell. (As an aside: San Francisco-based Uber reported a Q3 loss of $2.4 billion that NYT in an earnings piece attributes to investment in Didi. Uber has a current market cap of $74 billion, per Trefis, after a tough ride through the COVID-19 pandemic — one data point in analyzing who needs whom.)

But China “has been asserting greater control over its private companies, particularly those like Didi, which has extensive data on hundreds of millions of the Chinese taxi hailers and ride sharers,” writes NYT. “It seeks a private sector more in line with the Communist Party’s growing focus on spreading wealth and meeting its policy goals — aims that Wall Street investors most likely can’t help with.”

Didi’s NYSE departure, a mere five months after its IPO, “marks the end of a cushy relationship between Wall Street and Chinese tech giants, who are under siege from authorities in Beijing and regulators in America,” according to Yahoo News, which describes “a sweeping Chinese regulatory crackdown in the past year that has clipped the wings of major Internet firms wielding huge influence on consumers’ lives — including Alibaba and Tencent.”

Following Didi’s announcement on Friday, other Chinese tech firms trading on the NYSE — like Alibaba, JD.com and Pinduoduo — saw shares drop sharply. Alibaba, “whose arrival on Wall Street in 2014 to a loud fanfare kicked off the parade of Chinese firms listing in the Big Apple,” writes Yahoo News, fell to its lowest level in almost five years on rumors that it could be the next to leave town.

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