Responding to rumors it said were apparently sparked by an article in the South China Morning Post, to the effect that it is in contact with investment bankers and private equity buyers over a planned "going private" transaction, Chinese online media company (NASDAQ:SOHU) today said the whole thing is just nonsense.

In a press release issued in the wee hours of the morning (our time) Wednesday, Sohu bluntly said it "is not talking to investment banks and private equity funds about a possible plan to take the company private and/or delist its common stock from the NASDAQ Global Select Market. No such discussions are in progress or currently contemplated."

Sohu shareholders, however, have seen the value of their shares plunge 8.6% at the time of this writing (to $44.65 in recent trading), as hopes for a big going-private premium evaporate. Shares of other Chinese Internet companies, which may have been buoyed by hopes they would follow Sohu down a path it now denies treading, are suffering similarly. Qihoo 360 Technology (NYSE: QIHU) down 7.5%. (NASDAQ: CYOU) down 7.1%. SINA Corp. (NASDAQ: SINA) down 4%. NetEase (NASDAQ: NTES) down 1.4%.