U.S. audit inspection of Chinese companies in Hong Kong ends – sources

By Xie Yu and Julie Zhu

HONG KONG, Nov 5 (Reuters)U.S. audit watchdog’s onsite inspection of the audit work of New York-listed Chinese companies, which started in Hong Kong in September, has ended, three people with knowledge of the matter said, raising hopes of a resolution of a long-pending dispute.

The seven-week long onsite work by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB), the U.S. audit watchdog, ended on Friday, said the sources, declining to be named as they were not authorised to speak to the media.

The inspection started in Hong Kong after the two countries signed a pact in August to resolve a dispute that threatened to exclude more than 200 Chinese companies, including tech giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd 9988.HK, from U.S. exchanges.

A spokesperson for the PCAOB declined to comment.

Two of the sources said it was too early to tell whether the onsite inspection had been to the satisfaction of the U.S. agency, which has said it would not accept any curbs on its access to the audit papers of New York-listed Chinese firms.

Bloomberg earlier on Friday reported, citing sources familiar with the matter, onsite U.S. inspections of Chinese company audits have been completed ahead of schedule.

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Chinese markets soared on Friday, with news of an end to the onsite inspection of audit papers raising hopes that the U.S. officials were satisfied, and added to broader optimism that China may ease its tough COVID restrictions.

Reuters reported in August that U.S. regulators had picked a number of U.S.-listed Chinese companies, including e-commerce groups Alibaba and Yum China Holdings Inc YUMC.K9987.HK for onsite audit inspection.

(Reporting by Xie Yu and Julie Zhu in Hong Kong; additional reporting by Chris Prentice in Washington; Editing by Sumeet Chatterjee, Louise Heavens and Jane Merriman)

((sumeet.chatterjee@thomsonreuters.com; +852 3462 7757;))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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