Hong Kong (CNN Business)China launched its latest bid for tech superpower status by opening a Nasdaq-style stock market in a frenzy of buying by investors.
Trading on the new tech board of the Shanghai stock exchange, known as the Star Market, began on Monday, less than a year after the initiative was unveiled by President Xi Jinping. Shares in the 25 companies listed on Star soared by at least 100%, with Anji Microelectronics Technology, which makes materials for semiconductors, rocketing 500% in early dealing. Beijing hopes Star will help China’s high-tech companies tap into vast wealth held by local investors, and entice global leaders such as Alibaba (BABA) and Tencent (TCEHY) to return from stock markets in New York and Hong Kong. China has been encouraging its companies to become less dependent on foreign money and technology, a campaign that has intensified during the trade war with the United States and since the Trump administration blacklisted Huawei, a leading global smartphone maker and 5G network supplier.Read MorePrevious attempts by China to create a rival to Nasdaq in 2009 and 2013 failed because of a lack of quality listings and limited turnover in shares. Shanghai’s Star Market might be different. It’s the first time a Chinese president has announced the establishment of a stock exchange, highlighting the extent to which Beijing hopes that the board will help China become the dominant player in the technologies of the future. More than 100 companies have filed for applications to list on the Star Market, according to the Shanghai stock exchange.The country’s top securities regulator says the new Shanghai market will welcome innovative companies in six emerging industries of “strategic significance.” Those industries include next-generation information technology, smart manufacturing, aerospace, new materials, renewable energy and biotech. The sectors all align with Beijing’s Made in China 2025 initiative and the country’s latest five-year plan, which aim to transform the country into a manufacturing superpower that dominates high-tech industries. Regulators have introduced some significant changes for Star. In a first for China, the market allows companies that are losing money to list. Piloting a US-style registration IPO system, it has also streamlined the application process and given issuers and investors greater control over the pricing and timing of initial public offerings. Of the first batch of 25 companies that began trading Monday, 24 were listing for the first time. In total, the 25 companies raised more than 37 billion yuan ($5.4 billion).”To break the foreign monopoly and develop [our] integrated circuits testing industry, we need continued investments in research and development. Tapping the capital market will give us the biggest boost,” Chen Wenyuan, chairman of Suzhou HYC Technology, told the state-run Shanghai Securities Journal.Suzhou HYC Technology manufactures testing equipment for integrated circuits and touch and panel displays. It counts Apple (AAPL) and Samsung as its clients.Alibaba is reportedly mulling a $20 billion listing in Hong Kong Other companies listing on Star include chipmakers, AI companies, biotech firms, electric-car battery makers, and suppliers for high-speed railways. There’s a pipeline of more than 100 companies waiting to list, according to data from the Shanghai stock exchange.The new tech board has fallen into line with the New York Stock Exchange, Nasdaq and Hong Kong by allowing listings of companies with dual-class shares or weighted voting rights.It’s a change aimed squarely at attracting Chinese tech companies currently trading overseas.Both structures are popular with tech entrepreneurs because they allow them to retain control even after going public. “I believe that the leading Chinese tech companies will return because of better valuation, and favorable policies,” said Hao Hong, managing director and head of research at BOCOM International. China's tech workers burn out mentally and physically in the '996' rat race Like Alibaba and Tencent, other big Chinese tech companies such as Baidu (BIDU), JD.com (JD), Xiaomi and Pinduoduo (PDD) have chosen New York or Hong Kong to go public. Alibaba is reportedly considering a second listing in Hong Kong, following its record $25 billion flotation in New York in 2014.”Policymakers clearly don’t like the fact that, despite huge domestic savings, the best Chinese companies such as Alibaba still have to go abroad to raise money,” said Larry Hu, head of China economics research at Macquarie Group.Last year, smartphone maker Xiaomi was the first company to go public in Hong Kong with weighted voting rights after regulators changed the rules to attract more tech listings.