A trade war can be fought on many fronts. As China breeds unicorns, they are being asked to stay at home rather than gallop overseas to enrich U.S. investors.
The U.S. pipeline of Chinese IPOs has been light since President Donald Trump started making noises about tariffs in early March. The only billion-dollar offering is the pending sale by e-commerce site Pinduoduo, for which an American listing makes sense because it competes directly with Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and JD.com Inc., which already trade there.
Hong Kong, by contrast, has seen a stampede, including the $3.1 billion IPO by Xiaomi Corp. and a planned offering by Meituan Dianping, the world’s third- and fourth-most valuable unicorns. In the U.S., 17 Chinese startups filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission since March for a combined deal size of $3 billion; in Hong Kong, there were 27 candidates seeking an aggregate $10.5 billion, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
It might be argued that unicorns — defined as startups with a value exceeding $1 billion — can expect a better reception in Hong Kong. The exchange doesn’t have enough fast-growing tech firms: Information technology and healthcare constitute less than 10 percent of the Hang Seng Composite Index, compared with 40 percent for the S&P 500.
That’s a misconception, though: U.S. investors adore Chinese unicorns. The KraneShares CSI China Internet Fund, an ETF that tracks U.S.-listed Chinese technology firms, outperformed the S&P 500 by an annualized 5.9 percentage points since its inception in August 2013.
Even this year, Chinese ADRs are doing relatively better than the Hong Kong market: The KraneShares ETF is broadly flat, versus a 6 percent decline in the…