Tianhe, the Chinese chemicals group, has suspended its shares just three months after listing in Hong Kong following claims of fraud by a group claiming links to Anonymous, the shadowy hacker collective.
The short seller-style attack is one of the most ambitious in terms of size to have hit a mainland Chinese company in at least a year.
Tianhe – which has been at the centre of the furore over investment banks’ China hiring practices – listed in June and had a market capitalisation of about $8bn when the 66-page report by Anonymous Analytics was published on Tuesday.
The attack is also the most high-profile since new Hong Kong listing rules introduced last year made banks sponsoring – or leading – initial public offerings potentially liable for offences relating to misinformation in prospectuses. Tianhe’s sponsors were Morgan Stanley, UBS and Bank of America Merrill Lynch. All three declined to comment.
这次攻击还是自去年香港引入新上市规则以来，最为高调的一次。根据这一新的上市规则，对于企业首次公开招股(IPO)的担保银行来说，它们可能需要为与招股说明书中的错误信息有关的违规行为承担责任。天合化工的担保银行是摩根士丹利(Morgan Stanley)、瑞银(UBS)和美银美林(Bank of America Merrill Lynch)。这三家银行对此都拒绝置评。
Morgan Stanley’s private equity arm holds a 9.5 per cent stake in Tianhe, making it the second-largest shareholder, according to Bloomberg data.
UBS analyst Bonan Li's rating on Tianhe, which he previously recommended investors should buy, was suspended as of Wednesday, according to Bloomberg's service that tracks analysts' opinions on companies.
The company’s shares slid 5 per cent on Tuesday before Tianhe asked they be suspended pending an announcement.
In an initial statement, Tianhe reserved the right to “take legal action for damages or other relief”’.
“The [AA] report contains errors of fact, misleading statements and malicious accusations against the company and its directors,” Tianhe said, adding it would “address the allegations in the report as soon as practicable”.
AA, as the hacker group styles itself, claimed that Tianhe had generated a fraction of the sales and profits it reported in the prospectus.
In an emailed response to the Financial Times’ questions, AA said that Tianhe’s high margins were the trigger for it taking a closer look at the company.
In the report, AA said: “We have conducted months of due diligence, field research and analysis which show that Tianhe is a massive fraud and one of the largest stock market scams ever conceived.”
Among other things, Tianhe specialises in surface treatments such as waterproofing fabric and coatings for smartphones and tablets.
Deloitte, auditor to Tianhe, declined to comment, as did the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission, the market regulator.
天合化工的审计方德勤(Deloitte)对此拒绝置评。香港市场监管机构香港证监会(Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission)也同样拒绝置评这一消息。
Short sellers aim to profit from falling share prices – often by publicly attacking their targets.
AA said that it held no position in Tianhe’s shares, but that readers could assume affiliates stood to gain from any fall in the company’s stock.
The AA report’s claims could not be swiftly independently verified.
Recent attacks on the credibility of Chinese companies have generated less attention than they did in 2011 when Muddy Waters, the US short seller, claimed Sino-Forest, a Toronto-listed mainland forestry group, was a fraud.
最近对中国企业信誉的攻击，不再像2011年嘉汉林业(Sino Forest)一案那样轰动。当时，美国空头浑水公司(Muddy Waters)曾声称这家在多伦多上市的林业集团有欺诈行为。
Previous companies targeted by AA have included Chaoda Modern Agriculture, a Chinese vegetable supplier, in 2011, whose shares fell sharply. In 2012, however, it failed to win over investors for a critique of New York-listed Qihoo 360, a Chinese search and cyber security company. Qihoo’s shares have risen five-fold since.
在此之前，“匿名分析”还曾在2011年攻击过中国蔬菜供应商超大现代农业(Chaoda Modern Agriculture)，后者在受到攻击后股价曾急剧下跌。不过，2012年该团体对于在纽约上市的奇虎360(Qihoo 360)的批评文章却未能说服投资者，奇虎360的股票自那以来上涨了4倍。奇虎360是一家中国搜索与网络安全公司。