Tianhe Stock Suspension Hits One Year


Tianhe Chemicals Group recently marked the anniversary of suspension in the trading of its stock on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. The lubricant additive supplier says it plans to catch up on financial reporting requirements and see trading resume soon. Analysts say it remains to be seen how the incident will affect the company.

The Hong Kong exchange halted trading of the stock at the companys request on March 26, 2015 after the company announced that it would not meet deadlines to post its financial results for 2014 or its 2014 annual report. The company still has not posted those results or report, and it recently missed the same deadlines for the 2015 results and annual report. But it also said it is close to reporting the 2014 documents and is working to meet all of its obligations.

Photo: Tianhe Chemicals

Tianhe officials say the company has moved ahead with its strategy of developing new products, and that this will help it overcome negative impacts from the suspension of trading of its stock.

Hong Kong stock analysts said problems like those endured by Tianhe can hurt business. Trading of Tianhes stock was also suspended for a month in the fall of 2014 after a short-selling firm, Anonymous Analytics, accused it of fraud in the lead-up to Tianhes initial public stock offering earlier that year, allegations that Tianhe denied.

Kenny Tang Sing-hing, CEO at Jun Yang Securities Co., said a companys image can be affected in the eyes of both customers and suppliers. Suppliers are worried of course, he said. That will definitely affect their operation and sales.

Kenny Wen-kit, chief strategist for Sun Hung Kai Financial, said cash flow can suffer because creditors may sometimes urge the troubled company to repay loans while customers will delay payment. Whats more, it is hard to regain customer and investor confidence after all of this, Wen said.

Tianhe acknowledged some negative impacts in a March 23 statement posted on the stock exchange.

The group also faced challenges arising from prolonged suspension of trading in the companys shares and delay in publication of 2014 annual results including, among others, extra acceptance procedures by new customers and a lengthier negotiation process on expansion of orders with existing customers, it stated.

On the other hand, a Tianhe official told Lube Report Asia the company is in good shape.

Although the trading suspension has presented an additional challenge to the company … the group continued its ongoing effort in building and strengthening overseas, long-term customer relationships, said G.S. Ravi, CEO of Tianhes lubricant additives division. Customers have the best understanding of the companys business, he said, and Tianhes increase in exports in 2015 reflects their decision to expand relationships with the company.

Ravi noted that the lube additives business reported a modest increase in sales for 2015. In terms of cash flow, he said, the firm has adopted a conservative approach and had a net cash position of over 2.4 billion (U.S. $370 million) at the end of 2015.

Whenever trading of Tianhes stock resumes, its possible the price of shares will fall, Wen said, as this sometimes happens after problems cause suspensions in trading. This can be especially true of businesses like chemical companies that investors may not understand.

Ravi declined to discuss future movement of Tianhes stock, but said the resumption of trading will benefit the company.

It will help the companys overall business in a couple ways, he said. For example, it will strengthen our marketing effort in acquiring new customers by simplifying the acceptance procedures by such customers. It will also help facilitate the negotiation process for expansion of orders with existing customers and establishment of strategic cooperation with multinational lubricant oil companies.

Tianhe said its reporting problems stemmed from Anonymous Analytics accusations insofar that the accounting firm auditing the 2014 results became extra cautious and requested extensive documentation, some of which Tianhe could not provide. When the firm refused to express an opinion on the companys financial statements, Tianhe hired a new firm which has since been working on the 2014 results.

The stock analysts interviewed for this story said an underlying problem is that the Hong Kong exchange and Chinas Securities and Future Commission do inadequate jobs of requiring companies to disclose enough information for investors to confidently evaluate them.

Most of them are not transparent enough, Tang said. In this case, Tianhe didnt announce the progress of its incidents clearly.

Wen predicted Tianhes financial results will be clearer after the stock exchange required it to appoint an independent forensic specialist.

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