Used car platform Uxin shares plunge after report urges ‘race to the exits’

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(Image credit: Uxin)

Chinese used car online seller Uxin’s share price plummeted 36% on Tuesday after a short-seller issued an  report saying the company was notorious in China “as a cheat.”

J Capital Research analyst Anne Stevenson-Yang issued an report on Tuesday, saying Uxin faced a series of problems including overstated transaction volume, undisclosed debt, and faked inventory values. Stevenson-Yang estimated as many as 40% of the cars listed on Uxin were actually not sold through the platform, citing Chinese dealers they spoke to, who said they posted inventory not only on Uxin, but also on multiple websites such as Guazi, 58.com, and Che168 at the same time.

Dai Kun, founder and CEO of Uxin, was also accused of feathering his own nest by taking about $100 million in loans repaid in shares before Uxin went public in June. This was followed by another $180 million “forced” margin sale on shares offered as collateral to Huarong Asset, a Chinese financial institution now under investigation for share manipulation, in December when the shares were still locked up.

“Uxin believes that the allegations in the report are completely without merit, and strongly condemns the publishing of false and misleading information,” the company said in an announcement released Wednesday. The Nasdaq-listed company denied the allegations of fraudulent sales data, as well as the existence of any voluntary deal made by its chief executive. It said it would provide additional information at a later date after carefully reviewing the report.

“Uxin’s truly awful public reputation is well hidden from Western investors, but a simple search in Chinese turns up hundreds of news articles, blog posts, and lawsuits alleging that Uxin is a cheat,” Stevenson-Yang said in the report, referring to consumer lawsuits against the company for improper fees added to loans it sells. This statement echoes a Chinese media report citing a buyer surnamed Lin, who said she was charged as much as RMB 28,000 (around $4,200) in fees for an RMB 200,000 second-hand car from Uxin.

The Chinese second-hand car platform Uxin reported solid results in 2018, with revenue growing 69.9% year-on-year to $483.1 million. It also posted $165.6 million revenue in the fourth quarter against a forecast of $153 million to $159 million, and narrowed its net losses modestly to RMB 1.67 billion for the full year. Its stock price closed at $1.95 on Tuesday, almost one-tenth the value of its $10.49 peak price in December.