Chinese Portal Fang.com Could Be Kicked Off NYSE as Deadline Passes

May 18, 2022
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The Chinese real estate portal company Fang.com could be set to be delisted from the New York Stock Exchange after failing to file financial information to the SEC.

The troubled real estate portal company has not disclosed any financial information since it declared a $6 million net loss in its unaudited 2020 results. The Beijing based portal firm was warned in April that it would have until the 17th of May to produce an acceptable filing for 2020 and the first half of 2021 or it would be subject to a trading suspension with a delisting likely to follow if any other reports were delayed. That deadline has now passed without any filing forthcoming.

 

Chinese portals struggling amid market downturn

It's not just Fang.com that is going through some hard times in the world of Chinese real estate portals.

Rival FangDD is also under pressure and could yet be struck off the Nasdaq after receiving a 'minimum bid requirement' warning in January after its shares closed below $1 for 30 consecutive days.  The signs don't look good for FangDD as its shares were trading at around $0.23 at the time of writing.

There is also stock market trouble at 58.com's real estate marketplace Anjuke which was supposed to float on the Hong Kong Stock Market back in April 2021. Since October the company's prospectus has been invalid with no word forthcoming on the next steps for the portal's delayed IPO.

Even the portals backed by big business are struggling in China. Tencent and Warburg-Pincus backed Beike (KE Holdings) made net losses of $82 million in 2021 while Leju, which has links to Alibaba, lost $150 million.

According to Chinese real estate portal expert Brett Hartley-Wilson, the crisis that surrounded the country's largest developer Evergrande in the Autumn did not have as big of an impact as some thought. The Chinese market is changing though and according to Hartley-Wilson there are still opportunities out there for portals despite a downturn in the primary market.

 

Trouble a long time coming for Fang.com

Fang.com's trouble on the market has been a long time coming and is the result of several different factors.  The portal's stock was valued at $870 back in 2014 yet at the time of writing was trading for under $3 and there were reports throughout April that the stock was the target of increased short selling.

Fang.com was a first mover in the world of Chinese online real estate. Founded as Soufun.com in 1999 by Vincent Mo and taken public in 2010, the portal traditionally made most of its money by selling banner ads to developers. After a downturn in the primary market in 2014, the company tried to pivot and take on the country's agents by offering transactions at 0.5% commission. In doing so Fang.com burned bridges with customers and was forced to change back to its initial model.

According to its corporate page, the company's services these days are:

"primarily marketing, listing, financial and value-added services for China's fast-growing real estate and home furnishing and improvement sectors"

Having once been the leading platform for real estate in China and one of the country's most visited sites, Fang.com has since been overtaken by rivals with big name backers and a more robust business model.

In March this year, the news got worse for Fang as the company announced that its visionary founder would be leaving the company. Although a press release was keen to stress that Mr Mo's departure was not due to any "disagreement with the Company on any matter relating to the Company's operations, policies or practices", the loss at a critical time did nothing to help the company's share price.

 

May 18, 2022
Edmund got to know the world of portals and marketplaces working at Mitula Group (which became Lifull Connect after the buyout in 2018). He worked directly with hundreds of portals across the world in his role in the content department for three and a half years before transferring to the SEO department to understand the inner workings of listings sites. He joined Online Marketplaces as Head of Content in March 2020.

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