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Fri, Sep 22, 2006 - Page 10 News List

Chinese firms are biggest source of growth for NASDAQ

AP , SHANGHAI

Chinese companies are the NASDAQ's biggest source of new listings and don't appear to be discouraged by stricter legal requirements, the US exchange's international president said.

Chinese companies now account for 29 of about 3,300 companies listed on NASDAQ, said the president of NASDAQ International, Charlotte Crosswell, in an interview in Shanghai on Wednesday.

The exchange also lists 15 firms from Hong Kong, a Chinese special autonomous region, putting China third behind first-place Israel and second-place Canada in having the most non-US listings on the NASDAQ, Crosswell said.

"Obviously the growth is coming from China, and that's where we're really seeing the pipeline expand, in terms of numbers of companies coming to market," said Crosswell, who was in China's commercial hub to encourage the parade of new Chinese firms marching toward listings on the US' largest electronic stock market.

The growth comes despite the potential disadvantage US exchanges face from the relatively strict rules on reporting and corporate governance required by the US government.

NASDAQ president and CEO Robert Greifeld earlier this month said efforts to attract international listings have been hampered by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which took effect in 2002 in response to several US corporate scandals.

However, Crosswell said Chinese companies tell her the regulatory hassles are offset by the added trust from investors. Chinese firms also have comparatively little difficulty implementing the requirements because they are often too young to have developed rigid corporate structures, she said.

"They believe it's a good thing to have," Crosswell said. "They're actually very happy they can prove they can comply with it because they think that's a good story for investors."

Crosswell declined to give a figure on numbers of upcoming new listings or any other specific business plans in China, but she said growth was accelerating.

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