US regulators on Thursday said they had been allowed to inspect the work of auditors in China for the first time, easing the threat that about 200 Chinese companies could be thrown off American stock markets, reports the Financial Times. The announcement represents a significant breakthrough after a more than decade-long stand-off between Beijing and Washington, which has argued shoddy audit work contributed to a series of accounting frauds at US-listed Chinese companies.
Companies such as Alibaba, JD.com and Baidu were on course to be delisted starting in 2024 under US legislation that bans trading in stocks whose auditors cannot be inspected by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board.
China agreed in August to let the PCAOB examine work papers from Chinese auditors, including the local affiliates of the Big Four global accounting firms, but the agency had signalled that it was sceptical it would receive unfettered access. The PCAOB was set up to inspect all the accounting firms that audit US-listed companies, regardless of where they are based.