Short-sellers who profit from stock price declines have resumed targeting Chinese companies after a three-year lull, but many of the researchers who instigate the strategy are now cloaked in anonymity, shielding themselves from angry companies and Beijing’s counter-investigations.
Three reports published this month separately accused three Chinese companies – Tianhe Chemicals, 21Vianet and Shenguan Holdings – of business or accounting fraud. All three companies said the allegations were baseless but their shares were hit by a wave of short-selling by clients of the research firms and then by other investors as the reports were made public.
The reports were written by research firms that did not publicly disclose names of research analysts or even a phone number. In the last wave of short-selling that peaked in 2011 and wiped more than $21 billion off the market value of Chinese companies listed in the United States, the researchers advocating short-selling were mostly public.