U.S. regulators have singled out major e-commerce companies Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and JD.com Inc, among other U.S.-listed Chinese companies, for audit inspection from next month, people with knowledge of the matter said.
The selection of these firms comes after Beijing and Washington reached a landmark deal on audits, allowing US regulators to scrutinize accounting firms from mainland China and Hong Kong, potentially ending a long-running dispute. which threatened to expel more than 200 Chinese companies from US stock markets.
The two tech companies, along with Yum China Holdings Inc. — which owns KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut restaurants in China — have been notified that they are among the first batch of Chinese companies to have their audits inspected in Hong Kong by the U.S. audit watchdog, the Listed Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB), the people told Reuters, declining to be identified due to confidentiality issues.
Alibaba, JD.com and Yum China’s respective accounting firms – PwC, Deloitte and KPMG – have also been notified of the inspection, the people added.
Alibaba, JD.com, Yum China, KPMG and the China Securities Regulatory Commission did not respond to requests for comment.
Spokesmen for PwC and Deloitte said it is company policy not to comment on client matters.
A PCAOB spokesman said Tuesday that the board does not comment on its inspections. The watchdog could not be reached for comment outside of business hours in the United States on Wednesday.
Alibaba’s US-listed shares closed down nearly 3% on Tuesday following a Reuters report, after rising about 1% in premarket trading. Its shares in Hong Kong trimmed losses to almost 1% on Wednesday afternoon, after falling more than 3% in the morning.
US regulators have been requiring access to audit documents of US-listed Chinese companies for more than a decade, but Chinese authorities have been reluctant to allow US regulators to inspect accounting firms in China, citing reasons of national security.
Alibaba, which went public in New York in 2014 in what was at the time the largest stock market debut in history, is the largest-cap Chinese company listed in the United States, with a market value of $248 billion to date. on Tuesday.