Didi Chuxing, the Chinese Uber-like ride-hailing champion and once considered the world’s most successful start-up, said Friday that it would begin delisting its New York-traded shares and prepare for a public offering in Hong Kong.
The move is sure to reverberate outside China, particularly in Washington and on Wall Street. Just in June, Didi sold shares to global investors in an initial public offering in New York that valued the company at $69 billion. The abrupt turn after just six months is likely to anger investors, who bid up the price of the company this summer when it listed.
In a statement in China, Didi said its board had authorized beginning the process of delisting from the New York Stock Exchange. The securities that trade in the United States will be “convertible into freely tradable shares” of the company on another stock exchange, it said.
“The company will organize a shareholders’ meeting to vote on the above matter at an appropriate time in the future, following necessary procedures,” Didi said.
The move to delist comes as officials in the United States and China alike take an increasingly skeptical view of the access Chinese companies have long enjoyed to Wall Street and its money.
It also comes as Beijing’s top leaders move to assert greater control over Didi and the private technology sector. While some analysts have applauded long-needed regulatory measures to control consumer data and end anticompetitive practices, others worry the moves may damage the competitiveness of the country’s dynamic private technology giants.
Chinese officials have rushed to reassure investors about the importance of private industry, but China’s push to tame its internet giants has already worried investors that a push for social control will only extend deeper into the economy.
The line between private and state control has already blurred under Xi Jinping, China’s top leader, as new emphasis has been given to the development of Chinese Communist Party committees within private firms. Beijing has recently set strict new limits on video-game time for children, crushed the after-school education industry and set limits on online celebrity fandom. An antitrust campaign aimed at the technology industry has also left untouched large state-run monopolies that dominate key sectors like energy, telecommunications and banking.
With 377 million active users a year in China and services in 16 other countries, Didi Chuxing has been celebrated in China as a homegrown tech champion. It vanquished its United States rival, Uber, and bought its Chinese operations in 2016. Promises to use its banks of data to unsnarl traffic and develop driverless car technologies made its executives icons as Chinese officials called to build a more innovative economy.