China's Weibo to evaluate options after delisting risk in the U.S

Illustration picture of Chinese social media app Weibo

(Reuters) -Weibo Corp said on Thursday it will consider evaluating options after the Chinese social media platform was added to U.S. securities regulator's list of companies facing the risk of being delisted.

Washington has long demanded complete access to the books of U.S.-listed companies, but Beijing, citing national security concerns, bars foreign inspection of working papers from local accounting firms.

The U.S Congress in 2020 passed the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act (HFCAA), which compels the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to delist stocks of companies that do not comply.

In December, the SEC identified 273 companies that were at risk under the HFCAA, without naming them.

Earlier this month, it named five companies, including KFC operator Yum China Holdings and biotech firm BeiGene Ltd, that could face delisting. It added Weibo to the list on Wednesday.

"The SEC will gradually move to identify the more systemically significant China based companies listed in the U.S." said Shaswat K. Das, a lawyer at King & Spalding LLP who previously worked at the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board as its primary negotiator with the Chinese regulators on cross-border audit oversight from 2011 to 2015.

China's securities regulator said earlier this month it had made "positive progress" with U.S. counterparts on securities supervision, after U.S.-listed Chinese stocks tumbled as the first Chinese firms to be potentially de-listed were named.

Das, however, cautioned it was too early to tell whether that's going to materialize into anything significant.

According to a Reuters report on Tuesday, citing sources, Chinese regulators have asked some of the country's U.S.-listed firms, including Alibaba, Baidu and, to prepare for more audit disclosures.

Separately, Yum China has said it may have to delist from the New York stock exchange by 2024 after U.S. authorities said it had failed to provide access to audit documents.

(Reporting by Eva Mathews, Tiyashi Datta and Chavi Mehta in Bengaluru and Echo Wang in New York; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)