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纪源资本合伙人:解码中国股市暴跌及其对硅谷的影响

Glenn Solomon 2015年07月14日

一位和中国联系紧密的硅谷投资者分析了目前的情况及其影响,以及需要关注哪些问题。

    过去几周中国股市直线下坠,开始回吐此前12个月的巨大涨幅。中国证监会已经出手干预,试图遏制市场滑坡。许多中国公司的管理层都选择了停牌,这加剧了目前笼罩市场的恐慌心态。同时,美国市场交易的中国科技公司ADR(美国存托凭证)也出现了相当大的跌幅。

    15年来,我所在的纪源资本风投公司一直积极在中国投资,在华业务规模已经很大。我们支持的中国公司包括一些实力最强的新经济企业,如阿里巴巴、去哪儿网和欢聚时代。我们的中国合作伙伴也参与了百度和小米等其他中国科技公司的最早期投资。我们在中国投入了大量资金,亲眼目睹了这些公司的发展。我们也经受住了互联网泡沫、非典、全球金融危机等一系列困难的考验。因此,最近许多人都在问我中国出了什么事,中国经济前景如何,以及美国科技和风投市场可能受到哪些影响。我总结了一些关键因素,并提出了我对这些问题的看法,具体如下。

    中国股市暴跌有因

    中国有多个股票交易市场,上交所和深交所是中国两大股票市场,许多增长缓慢、从事线下经营的国有企业都在此上市,但它们只有少数股份可以流通。这些国企往往在中国处于垄断位置。另外还有三个类似纳斯达克的市场,分别是深圳创业板(即三板市场)、北京新三板和最新的上交所战略新兴产业板。这三个市场的上市条件不那么严格,囊括了其他地方性公司,其中许多都以线下经济为重点,或者是增长缓慢的小众企业。去年夏天之前,这三个市场上的股票在四年时间里一直处于稳步下滑状态。

    同时,中国经济持续增长,许多上市公司都披露了良好业绩。因此,在这个阶段中国股票的估值倍数下降,吸引力开始上升。最终牛市出现了,而且最初是建立在基本面上的。随后,政府放宽了政策,包括提高了散户借助抵押融资的交易能力,此举使得投资者可以获得更多资金,再加上他们急于买进那些正在升值的股票,股市开始进一步上扬。这样的高歌猛进一直延续到大约一个月前,中国股市随后开始直线下滑。此前的涨幅很大。比如说,过去3-4周出现滑坡前,A股在12个月时间里的平均升幅约为140%。

    政府有何举措?为什么要这样做?

    中国政府的首要任务是建立繁荣而且开放的资本市场,其中的重要步骤之一就是让一些最优质的中国企业在国内上市。中国的牛市延续到了一个月之前,套利空间变得越来越大。在美国以ADR方式上市交易的中国公司感觉如果回到A股市场,会拿到更高估值。因此,一些赴美上市的中国公司宣布退市,中国国内基金、这些公司的管理层以及中国金融机构联手对这些ADR,也就是在美上市的中国企业提出了收购要约。他们的最终目标是将这些公司重组为中国境内企业,然后让他们登陆中国股票市场。鉴于中国政府以壮大国内股市为首要任务,我认为这样的行为获得了暗中支持,更多中国企业也要退市的传闻也推动许多中国公司ADR走强。

    眼下,随着中国股市开始暴跌,中国政府更关心稳定市场这种眼前的问题,这和美股动荡不安时美国政府救市的行为类似。到目前为止,中国政府的措施看来力度很大(如在很长一段时间里禁止股东减持,暂停新股发行等),但一直未能扭转A股的颓势。许多公司都停了牌,这让情况变得更糟,因为它让那些被催缴保证金,急需融资的投资者更加恐慌。

    China’s stock markets have been in free-fall for the past several weeks, reversing tremendous gains over the prior twelve months. The Chinese version of the SEC (CSRC) has intervened, attempting to staunch the slide. The management teams of many local Chinese companies have unilaterally halted trading in their own stocks, adding to the panic that currently prevails. Additionally, the ADRs (American Depository Receipts) of the shares in Chinese tech companies that trade in the U.S. have also fallen pretty sharply.

    At my venture capital firm, GGV Capital, we’ve been actively investing in China with a strong local presence for the past 15 years. We’ve backed some of the strongest new-economy Chinese companies that have emerged including Alibaba BABA 1.21% , Qunar QUNR 0.36% and YY YY 0.08% , and our China-based partners have been involved at the earliest stages of other Chinese tech companies such as Baidu BIDU 0.10% and Xiaomi. We’re heavily invested in China and are on the ground to see developments first-hand. We’ve lived through the Internet bubble, SARS and the global financial crisis, to name a few. As a result, I’ve gotten lots of questions recently about what’s going on in China, the prospects for the Chinese economy, and what the impacts might be on the US tech and VC markets. I’ve summarized some of the key elements of the story and my perspective on these questions below.

    The Chinese stock market sell off in context

    China has several local exchanges. The Shanghai and Shenzhen exchanges (which include “A-Share, Renminbi denominated stocks) are the most developed and include many low-growth, offline-economy, state-owned enterprises (SOEs) with minority stakes that trade publicly. SOEs are often local monopolies. There are also three Nasdaq styled exchanges – the Shenzhen-based Chinext (aka “3rd board), the Beijing based “New Third Board” and the very new “Special Shanghai Board.” These three exchanges have less stringent listing criteria, and include other local companies, many of which are offline-economy focused or niche players with slowing growth. Chinese stocks on all of these exchanges fell steadily for roughly the four years leading up to last summer.

    Meanwhile, the Chinese economy kept growing and many publicly-listed companies exhibited solid financial performance. As a result, Chinese stocks got cheaper on a multiple basis during this period and started to look more attractive. Eventually a rally ensued, initially based on fundamentals. Subsequently, more liberal government policies, including the enhanced ability for individuals (retail investors) to buy on margin, began to fuel further stock appreciation as investors had access to more capital and a thirst to bet on appreciating equities. This spiraled on itself until roughly one month ago when Chinese stocks began their nose-dive. The surge was meaningful – for example, A-Shares were up on average approximately 140% in the 12 months before the fall of the past 3-4 weeks.

    What is the government doing and why?

    The government has a priority to build flourishing, open capital markets in China. One important step is to have some of the highest quality Chinese companies trade locally. As local Chinese stocks rallied up until a month ago, an arbitrage window began to open up. Chinese companies trading in the US with ADRs looked like they’d have much higher valuations on Chinese exchanges. As a result, several take-private transactions were announced, where local Chinese funds partnered with management teams and local financial institutions to announce buyout offers for ADR, U.S.-listed Chinese companies, with the ultimate plan of restructuring these companies as onshore Chinese entities and taking them public locally. Given the government’s priority of building out the local Chinese stock markets, I believe there’s tacit support for these types of deals, and many of the U.S.-listed ADRs rallied on rumors of more take-private offers coming.

    Now with the local markets in free fall, the Chinese government is more focused in the short term on trying to calm the markets, similar to the moves we’ve seen the U.S. government make in times of local market strife. To date, these moves seem pretty draconian (e.g., unilaterally locking up insiders from selling stock for a long while, closing the IPO window, etc.) and have been ineffective in reversing the slide. Making matters worse, many companies have halted trading in their own stocks, further stoking panic fears among investors who are getting margin calls and needing to find liquidity urgently.

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