Chinese chip makers speed up plans to list on the STAR Market: report

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Several top Chinese chip makers are accelerating their timelines to list on China’s new Nasdaq-style high-tech board, with plans to list within one year in response to Beijing’s push for complete self-reliance in semiconductors, Nikkei Asian Review reported on Wednesday.

Why it matters: China is accelerating public listings particularly for chip companies on the domestic STAR Market to speed the development of its high-priority semiconductor industry in the wake of US technology sanctions.

  • The STAR Market, a high-tech board on the Shanghai Stock Exchange, was established to provide venture capitalists with a smooth exit option and stimulate more funds to flow into the high-tech sectors, including the nationally important semiconductor industry.
  • “The semiconductor industry is part of the new generation of the information technology sector, which ranks first on the China Securities Regulatory Commission’s list of recommended sectors for the STIB,” Fang Jing, an analyst at the China Merchants Securities, told TechNode in a March interview.

Details: Horizon Robotics, an autonomous driving-focused artificial intelligence chip unicorn, plans to list on the STAR Market as soon as 2020, said Nikkei, citing people familiar with the matter.

  • The companies planning to list also include Bestechnic, a Bluetooth and wireless audio chip startup backed by Xiaomi and Alibaba, and National Silicon Industry Group, a Beijing-sponsored semiconductor material and chip wafer provider, said the report.
  • UNISOC Communications, China’s second-largest mobile chip developer, has also said it will file to begin the initial public offering (IPO) process with the tech board next year.
  • Semiconductor Manufacturing International Co., China’s top contract chip maker, is also expected to list on the STAR Market after delisting from the New York Stock Exchange in May.

Context: The STAR Market was first announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping in his keynote speech at the opening of the first China International Import Expo in Shanghai in November.

  • The tech board is an experiment with a registration-based IPO system.
  • It opened for trading in July with 10 semiconductor firms debuting out of the 25 companies offering shares. Anji Microelectronics, a Shanghai-based electronic chemicals producer, saw its shares rise as much as 448% an hour after the market opening.