U.S.-traded shares of Nio and other Chinese EV makers are down sharply on delisting fears

Key Points
  • The SEC has signaled that it will take action against U.S.-listed Chinese companies that don't comply with U.S. audit requirements, and named five such companies last week.
  • Nio, XPeng, and Li Auto haven't been named by the SEC, but shares are down as U.S. investors reassess their exposure to China.
Nio's et5 electric sedan is set to begin deliveries in Sept. 2022.

U.S.-listed shares of Chinese electric vehicle makers opened sharply lower on Monday, under pressure with other Chinese companies' U.S.-listed issues amid a new round of delisting fears.

Shares of Nio, XPeng, and Li Auto were all down over 10% in early trading on Monday. The three were still down 4.4%, 7.2%, and 10%, respectively, as of 10:55 a.m. EDT.

The Securities and Exchange Commission last week identified five Chinese companies with U.S.-listed shares that have failed to meet the audit requirements of the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act.

The act allows the SEC to delist and ban companies from trading on U.S. exchanges if regulators are unable to review company audits for three consecutive years. Formally naming, or "identifying," the companies is the first step in that process.

Nio, XPeng, and Li Auto haven't been named by the SEC. Yet investors appear to have interpreted the move as a sign that the SEC may pursue actions against other Chinese companies' U.S. listings. A company that has been delisted cannot offer new shares to U.S. investors, limiting its ability to raise additional capital – a significant concern for early-stage automakers.

All three EV companies have added listings in Hong Kong as a hedge against possible U.S. regulatory action. Nio's was completed last week after the company used a fast-track listing procedure that didn't involve raising funds. Xpeng and Li Auto followed more traditional paths to their Hong Kong listings last year, raising $2.1 billion and $1.5 billion respectively.