HONG KONG: Chinese investors are turning against the nation’s technology giants, removing a pillar of support that helped the sector through previous market routs.
Mainlanders have sold a net HK$33bil (US$4.2bil or RM17.77bil) worth of Tencent Holdings Ltd shares this month in what is likely to be the biggest monthly outflow in at least a year,
Bloomberg calculations showed. Their stake in the company has fallen to the lowest since February, the data showed. They have also sold a net HK$13bil (RM7.07bil) of Meituan shares this month, cutting holdings to the lowest since May.
The bearish turn from mainland investors is in contrast to February and March, when they continued buying Tencent stock as it fell. Cheaper valuations kept drawing them in, even as foreign investors bailed out to escape the impact of Beijing’s tougher stance toward digital finance businesses and anti-trust violators.
“The extent and harshness of Beijing’s crackdown have surprised many people,” said Dai Ming, a Shanghai-based fund manager at Huichen Asset Management. “It’s far beyond ‘normal regulation’, a scenario that many of us once priced in. Anything that threatens China’s data security will be heavily punished.”
Tencent, a mobile gaming giant, and Meituan, a dominant player in food delivery, have been swept up in Beijing’s efforts to tighten its grip on Big Tech and reduce inequality. Technology companies have face increased scrutiny since regulators surprisingly halted the initial public offering of Jack Ma’s Ant Group Co in November last year.
A slew of measures followed to curb the sector’s power, including restructuring of Ant Group, fines for monopoly practices and the removal of auto-hailing giant Didi Chuxing Technology Co’s app from stores.
Regulatory concern has increased in recent days after China ordered education firms to go non-profit. Tencent fell another 3.7% yesterday after losing 16% in the past two days. It said on Tuesday that it suspended user registrations for the social media app WeChat due to a “security technical upgrade”. ― Bloomberg