Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU), China's leading search provider, is considering delisting from the Nasdaq stock exchange amid rising tensions between U.S. securities regulators and China. The company has reportedly reached out to advisors to examine the consequences of such a move, including the potential for regulatory and funding issues, though a decision has not yet been made.
The company's chief executive and co-founder, Robin Li, said in a statement that Baidu was considering its options in the face of U.S. legislation that would place additional reporting requirements on foreign-owned businesses. "For a good company, there are many choices of destinations for listing, not limited to the U.S.," Li told the government-controlled China Daily newspaper.
The U.S. Senate passed a bill on Wednesday -- the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act -- that would require foreign companies to certify that "they are not owned or controlled by a foreign government." In addition, foreign entities would also be required to submit to audit oversight by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB), which oversees U.S. companies. The Chinese government has historically refused to provide U.S. regulators with access to the audit results of companies in China, saying to do so would be a violation of its laws.
Baidu's stock has fallen more than 60% since its peak two years ago, due in part to a slowing economy in China and growing competition in the Chinese search market. The company was also hit hard by the trade war last year and more recently the outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
The company believes it's being held back on the Nasdaq Exchange as the result of ongoing tensions between Washington, D.C. and Beijing, and listing Baidu's stock on an exchange closer to home would boost its valuation.