New York Stock Exchange management has once again reversed course regarding the fate of three Chinese telecom firms and will go through with delisting the companies. The back-and-forth is a symptom of the growing pressure on Wall Street as investors get caught in the ongoing dispute between the departing administration and China.
The flip-flopping began just before the end of 2020 when NYSE management announced that it would be delisting China Mobile
On Thursday, after receiving updated guidance from the Treasury department (likely at Mnuchin's behest, given his objection), the NYSE reversed course again and will proceed with the three firms' delisting this coming Monday.
The delisting wrought havoc on the three firms' stocks, causing a drop on the first announcement, recovery on the reversal, and another decline on the second reversal. Other than having their portfolios take a hit, foreign investors aren't likely to experience too much trouble.
However, American investors are likely going to be forced to sell what shares they have left, lest they wind up with frozen assets they can't trade. While it might have been possible for the firms to transition to over-the-counter trading, President Donald Trump's executive order in November expressly forbids this while also outright banning American investors from owning shares of the companies bought through other exchanges. Unless President-elect Joe Biden reverses Trump's order, American investors will likely be faced with only the options of liquidating their holdings or being stuck with lame shares.
The firms are the latest casualties in the still ongoing U.S.-China Trade War, which has yet to ease despite the "Phase One" agreement being signed last year. Despite the signing of the agreement, the trade war has evolved into a broader legislative battle.
Since the agreement's signing, the Trump administration has doubled down on its hardline position against China, even receiving bipartisan support on Capitol Hill. It's unlikely that the dispute will simply disappear once Biden takes office. Still, the veteran Democrat may try to ease tensions with China, which should bring much-needed pressure to American investors hoping to capitalize on China's increasing globalization.