Last month, a rabble-rouser named David Webb singled out 50 stocks listed in Hong Kong as being, well, a little fishy. Webb’s sleuthing had revealed a complex network of cross-ownership of each other’s shares, all of which fell on deaf ears. Until this week, however, when some of those companies lost in excess of 90% of their value and Hong Kong’s Growth Enterprise Market Index plunged more than 10%. At least, that might be what happened. Webb’s not really sure. And neither is anyone else.
Market participants remain stumped over what, or who, triggered the declines of as much as 90% for a number of stocks listed on Hong Kong’s Growth and Enterprise Market, home to a plethora of so-called penny-stocks that trade for less than one Hong Kong dollar ($0.13) each.
That includes the man who last month raised questions about the network of cross-shareholdings that appears to link the firms which were part of the plunge….
Mr. Webb said the unexplained plunge in the GEM market was indicative of poor oversight of markets by the city’s authorities, including exchange operator Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd., known as HKEx, which owns the market….
Some market participants said rumors of tighter regulation over the GEM market may have sparked its dive this week….
Others said the sudden drop could have been exacerbated by the close links between the companies involved, with some being forced to sell their holdings in others as prices dropped.