NYSE to delist Chinese telecom giants because of U.S. executive order

The exterior of the New York Stock Exchange building
The three corporations generate all of their revenue in China, making the delisting more of a symbolic blow.
(Frank Franklin II / Associated Press)

The New York Stock Exchange said it will delist three Chinese corporations to comply with a U.S. executive order that imposed restrictions on companies identified as affiliated with the Chinese military.

China Mobile Ltd., China Telecom Corp. and China Unicom Hong Kong Ltd. will be suspended from trading between Jan. 7 and Jan. 11, and proceedings to delist them have started, according to a statement by the exchange.

Quantitative hedge fund managers including Renaissance Technologies, Dimensional Fund Advisors and Two Sigma Investments were among the largest holders in these U.S. listings, but the stakes they held at the end of September were small, Securities and Exchange Commission filings show.


The three Chinese companies have separate listings in Hong Kong. All generate the entirety of their revenue in China and have no meaningful presence in the U.S. except for their listings here. Also, their shares are thinly traded on the New York Stock Exchange compared with their primary listings in Hong Kong, making this NYSE delisting more of a symbolic blow amid heightened geopolitical friction between the U.S. and China.

President Trump signed an order in November barring American investments in Chinese companies owned or controlled by the military, in a bid to pressure Beijing over what is viewed as abusive business practices. The order prohibited U.S. investors from buying and selling shares in Chinese companies designated by the Pentagon as having military ties.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry later accused the U.S. of “viciously slandering” its military-civilian integration policies and vowed to protect the country’s companies. Chinese officials have also threatened to respond to previous Trump administration actions with their own blacklist of U.S. companies.

The executive order has resulted in a series of companies being removed from indexes compiled by MSCI Inc., S&P Dow Jones Global Indices and FTSE Russell.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission in May barred China Mobile from operating in the U.S. In December, it ordered carriers to remove equipment made by Huawei Technologies Co. and began looking into whether China Telecom should be allowed to operate in the country. China Telecom’s U.S. unit told the FCC in a June 8 filing that it’s an independent business based in the U.S. and not subject to Chinese government control.

Global exchanges, including NYSE and Nasdaq Inc., courted Chinese companies during the last decade as they attempted to expand their IPO business, particularly in the internet sector. In response, Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd. changed its rules in recent years to entice back listings, including allowing share sales by companies with weighted voting rights — strengthening the power of company founders at the expense of weaker protections for minority investors.


Companies including e-commerce giants Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Inc., which already had listings in New York, conducted secondary listings in Hong Kong in the last two years as tensions between the U.S. and China intensified on a range of issues including trade and the novel coronavirus.