China's found a new way to crack down on a secretive—but common—practice – CNBC

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China continues to step up oversight of its financial system in efforts to rein in threats to market stability.

The Shanghai Stock Exchange is zeroing in on any corporate actions that may present financial risks to the market, official state media Xinhua reported Saturday. One particular area of focus is to keep companies from obscuring the real reason behind deals by employing tricks like complex agreements to transfer ownership, the report said.

That comes after a recent deal between private conglomerate Dalian Wanda and publicly-listed real estate developer Sunac used an unconventional deal structure, raising questions in industry and government. Beijing has been working to strengthen regulatory oversight to boost investor confidence after a giant stock market crash in 2015 wiped out trillions in market value.

Meanwhile, China’s slowing pace of growth has challenged market stability. Analysts expect that downward growth trend to continue, which would likely affect company performance.

“China’s economy is showing signs of peaking as the positive factors — exports, industrial investment and property investment — supporting the economic rebound in 2017 may start to lose steam in 2018,” Credit Suisse analyst Vincent Chan wrote in a recent note. “We believe the earnings upgrade cycle is coming to an end.”

Greater regulation is also coming amid massive capital outflows, which can affect volatility in the yuan. Much of that scrutiny has come after Chinese companies expanded quickly abroad, spending around $200 billion in outbound deals last year, according to Dealogic. Beijing has moved to crack down on those acquisitions abroad to restrict the amount of money flying offshore and to control risks related to the debt involved.

Many of those firms investing internationally are private with publicly listed subsidiaries, which means what the parent company does can at times be unclear to the investing public. That’s yet another cause for regulators’ concern.

Last week, an industry group controlled by the country’s securities regulator also banned more than 1,000 funds and individuals from investing in IPOs for up to a year — part of wider efforts to crack down on market manipulation.

Still, experts say more needs to be done to shore up China’s markets in the long run.

Liu Shiyu, the head of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, “has so far slow-rolled or watered down the most promising reforms,” Christopher Beddor, who covers Asia for consultancy Eurasia Group, said in a note.

The Shanghai composite edged down in early trade on Monday.