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Just 36 days!

By Li Xiang | China Daily | Updated: 2018-03-19 09:25

Just 36 days! Not months.

Foxconn Industrial Internet Co has broken the IPO ceiling in China and with it the record for the shortest waiting period for regulatory approval.

Never in my nearly 10 years of reporting on China's capital market have I seen any IPO application receiving the regulator's nod that quick. The standard processing time all these years has been several months to several years.

Pray, what's going on? The Shenzhen-based internet and electronics manufacturer is seeking to raise $4.3 billion from the market. Its success in securing the approval quickly has wowed investors, analysts and journalists alike.

Local companies, particularly firms that label themselves as tech unicorns, in need of finance and searching for backers are agog with excitement, and keen to know how Foxconn did it. (The term unicorn was coined by American venture capitalist Aileen Lee to describe a startup valued at $1 billion or more.) Even unlisted small and medium-sized businesses now see themselves listing sooner than later.

Investment bankers are chuffed too as they see more underwriting business opportunities arising from expected IPOs.

Everyone's lauding the China Securities Regulatory Commission for fast-tracking the Foxconn IPO. For, lengthy review and approval procedures were seen inflating IPO costs substantially for companies raising funds.

Not just that. Long waits also meant some companies would miss out on the best times to raise funds. By the time the approval materialized, the market situation may have changed to such an extent that the very rationale for an IPO would be defeated.

So, the quick approval for Foxconn comes as a breath of fresh air, and appears to be in line with the needs of a transitioning big economy that is seeking higher-quality growth from innovation and technological advances.

One expressed need is that the capital market should offer tech companies greater access and easier means to funds so they could enhance their R&D efforts.

Yet, the Foxconn case appears to have raised a few questions among some market people, after the regulator indicated it would like to see more local tech unicorns listing in China.

If $1 billion valuation is a major requirement for a quick IPO approval, will this lead to valuation fraud? Would the regulator be able to prevent such frauds? Is it fair to accord special treatment to only some IPO applicants like tech superstars? Shouldn't there be unified standards for speedy approval? Is the green pass legal in the first place?

The country's lawmakers are still reviewing the amendment that's sought to be made to the Securities Law. The existing laws ban loss-making local companies and firms registered overseas from listing on the local bourses.

The securities regulator will likely seek to address all such concerns and allay related fears before launching IPO reforms. Such reforms will seek to make the system more transparent, rules consistent, the market healthy and efficient, so that truly valuable startups could flourish.

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