After several decades when most Western governments inclined toward freer and more global trade, the mood seems to be changing. In the US, the presidential candidates have agreed on little but the need to keep a closer eye on trade agreements. In the United Kingdom, the new Prime minister, Theresa May, seems determined to fulfill the British public’s wish to leave the European Union, despite the fact that the pound sterling sank recently to a 168-year low. Skepticism over trade deals seems likely to remain a stubborn presence in most of the mature economies, so what should Chinese companies do to react?
Since early 2015, 47 Chinese companies have received combined offers of $43 billion in funding from private equity houses and Chinese internet giants to delist from American exchanges and make a run for the domestic stock markets. So far 14 of them have delisted and none of them have managed to complete the journey and re-emerge on a Chinese exchange. The sudden desire to rush for the exit represents a swift reversal of a quarter-of a-century flow of Chinese companies to the West. It is the result of two factors: poor performance of many Chinese companies on western exchanges, and the much higher valuations that companies can command in China.
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