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SPAC: SEC Charges Stable Road, Momentus Over False Claims

In one of the first such cases of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) formally pressing charges on a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC), the agency opened a case against Stable Road Acquisition Company , a SPAC, and   Momentus , a spaceflight startup that is its merger target. The SEC on Monday announced charges against Stable Road and Momentus and the firms' respective CEOs for making misleading claims to investors about Momentus' technology and national security concerns surrounding  Mikhail Kokorich , the Russian founder and CEO of the space company. Last October, Momentus agreed to merge with Stable Road to become a public company. The merger terms valued Momentus at $1.2bn (later halved ), despite the company being in the pre-revenue stage. As usual with SPACs, the pitch given to investors was ambitious and overtly promising, with Momentus claiming it had “successfully tested” its spacecraft propulsion technology. But, the SEC said not so fast, objec

Markets: Virgin Galactic Files To Raise $500M, Shares Dive

Just after Virgin Galactic , the aerospace company of fun-having entrepreneur Richard Branson, made space tourism history by sending Branson along with a group of acquaintances to the edges of outer space, the company has already sought to capitalize on the generated fanfare by selling stock on the public markets. Barely a day after its successful space trip, the publicly traded Virgin Galactic filed a notice with the SEC to sell up to $500 million of common stock to fund its operations. It seems that investors weren't happy with that speedy cash grab, as Virgin Galactic stock fell 11% during trading on Monday after the sale was announced. Despite minimal revenues, Virgin Galactic has ridden the waves of fanfare to have a current market cap of $10bn. That market cap is up 10x from the company's debut through a SPAC merger in 2019. With Branson and co having a successful trip to suborbital space, it's validated that Virgin Galactic has the technical chops to open up a new

Space: Rocket Trip With Jeff Bezos Sells For $28M

A seat on a planned short space trip by Blue Origin, the aerospace company owned by Amazon's Jeff Bezos, has been auctioned off for a large amount - $28mn . That emerged as the winning bid from a group of 7,600 people across 159 countries. The $28mn bid was won by a yet-to-be-identified person, who will take a short trip to space aboard Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket. He/she will tag along with Jeff Bezos and his brother Mark Bezos on the trip to the edge of space. It'll be a short 11-minute trip to suborbital space and back as the first crewed mission undertaken by Blue Origin. It's a critical first space trip with humans aboard since Blue Origin was founded in 2000. The ride aboard Blue Origin's rocket is scheduled for July 20, barely two weeks after Bezos will step down as Amazon's CEO and become Chairman. It seems he has been waiting all this while to relinquish his CEO duties and take a trip to space. Blue Origin's first crewed mission is a thing of p

New SPAC Deals: Space Startups Rocket Lab, Spire Global

As usual, new weeks bring new SPAC merger deals and this new week has brought two new merger announcements, this time from the space industry. They are Rocket Lab , a well-known small satellite launch service provider, and Spire Global , a startup that specializes in the tracking of global data sets, e.g. maritime and aviation patterns, with the use of satellites in orbit. Rocket Lab Rocket Lab has announced an agreement to merge with Vector Acquisition Corporation (Nasdaq: VACQ), a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) sponsored by San Francisco-based investment firm Vector Capital.  Rocket Lab's merger deal will hand it over $320 million of cash held in trust by Vector Acquisition, plus a $470 million private-investment-in-public-equity (PIPE) round committed by investors including Vector Capital, BlackRock, and Neuberger Berman.  With the investors buying shares at $10 each, it implies a $4.1 billion valuation for Rocket Lab, 5.4x the satellite launch provider's projec

SpaceX Raises $850M, Valued At $74B: Report

Over the past few months, rumors have abounded that SpaceX was tapping into the market for new funds, despite having closed a $1.9 billion round, its largest single round ever, just in August last year. Now, it appears that those rumors have been substantiated, with CNBC reporting that SpaceX has raised a new round of $850 million that values the company at $74 billion. For its report, CNBC cites "people familiar with the financing". It's said that SpaceX raised its new funds by selling shares for $419.99 apiece, seemingly a nod to the $420-per-share Tesla takeover saga that got Elon Musk in hot water with regulators in 2018. SpaceX's last known funding round in 2020 valued it at $46 billion, so it appears that the company's valuation has now shot up by about 60% in less than a year. The new reported round comes a few months after SpaceX made history by being the first private company to send astronauts into orbit to the International Space Station (ISS). Spa

New SPAC Merger: Rocket Startup Astra

Every day or the other, there's likely a new SPAC merger to be announced. For those not in the know, SPACs refer to special-purpose acquisition companies, which are shell publicly-traded corporations with no operations designed to take existing companies public by merging with them. Just recently, the latest company to seal a SPAC deal to go public was the on-demand private aviation startup Wheels Up . Now, the next is also in the aviation and mechanical flight sector but even higher, being a rocket building startup named Astra, which has announced  a SPAC merger deal just roughly a year after emerging from stealth.  Astra will merge with Holicity Inc. (NASDAQ: HOL), a SPAC created by the telecom billionaire Craig McCaw. The merger deal values Astra at $2.1 billion, wherein up to $500 million in cash will be handed over to Astra, consisting of $300 million raised and held in trust by Holicity Inc. and an extra $200 million cash infusion committed by a group of investors led by the

SpaceX Plans All-Civilian Space Mission For This Year

After successfully launching and returning astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS) last year, it appears that the Elon Musk-led aerospace company SpaceX has its eyes set on making another record, this time organizing the first all-civilian crewed mission to the ISS. SpaceX has announced  plans to carry out the first all-civilian mission to space in the fourth quarter of 2021. The mission will be manned by four people led by Jared Isaacman, a billionaire tech entrepreneur who's the CEO of Shift4 Payments, a publicly-traded payments company. Isaacman is the one funding the mission and will select the other space tourists to ride with him. The mission, dubbed "Inspiration4" is planned to launch from the well-known Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on SpaceX's Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon spacecraft. Isaacman and the crew that he's tagging along with will undergo commercial astronaut training by SpaceX to prepare

The First Private ISS Mission Seems Near

The International Space Station (ISS) is a modular space station in low Earth orbit that's famous across the globe. Every day, it travels around the globe, able to circle the whole Earth in the span of roughly 93 minutes. The ISS is governed by intergovernmental treaties and agreements, with the US at the forefront. Dozens of astronauts and cosmonauts as well as a few space tourists have gone to the ISS since it was launched in its current form in 1998. All of the missions to the ISS have been governmental and organized by the space agencies of various countries like the US, Russia, Japan, and Canada. Now, it appears that the first private mission to space is near, with the aerospace company Axiom Space having just announced  its private crew of four people that'll man the first private mission proposed to fly to the ISS.  The four people include an American, a Canadian, and a former Israeli Air Force pilot as passengers, and the fourth being Michael López-Alegría, a Spanish-Am

Starlink Rival OneWeb Raises $400M After Rescue From Bankruptcy

After emerging from bankruptcy with a joint rescue from the UK government and the Indian telecoms firm Bharti Global, OneWeb, a company seeking to build out a satellite internet network rivaling SpaceX's Starlink, has raised $400 million in new funding from SoftBank and Hughes Network Systems, a subsidiary of the satellite communications provider EchoStar. With the fresh $400 million round, OneWeb has now raised a total of $1.4 billion after emerging from bankruptcy. SoftBank provided $350 million out of the $400 million round, returning as an investor in OneWeb after previously pumping $1 billion into the company before getting its investment wiped out by a bankruptcy. As it seems, SoftBank has much money to burn on OneWeb, returning to invest in the company after getting burned earlier. Before filing for bankruptcy, OneWeb had raised a whopping $3 billion in venture funding but didn't give much output for that huge amount. Now controlled by the UK government and Bharti Globa

SpaceX's Starlink Gets UK Greenlight

Starlink, the proposed satellite internet service from SpaceX, has received licensing approval from the UK's communications regulator, clearing the way for the venture to get into another major broadband market. An authorization for SpaceX's Starlink was granted in November, according to a statement from a spokesman at the UK Office of Communications (Ofcom). Going by local reports, Starlink has also received approval in other European countries including Greece, Germany, and Australia. The satellite internet service originates from the US where SpaceX is based and has begun tests in both the country and neighboring Canada. Starlink consists of a planned constellation of thousands of mass-produced small satellites in low Earth orbit that'll beam internet access to the Earth by working in combination with ground transceivers. Already, SpaceX has launched more than 950 Starlink satellites into orbit out of a planned constellation of 42,000 such satellites, for which it's

Lockheed Martin Buys Aerojet Rocketdyne

The American aerospace and defense company Lockheed Martin has announced that it's reached a definitive agreement to buy Aerojet Rocketdyne, a publicly-traded rocket and missile propulsion manufacturer, in a $5 billion deal. Lockheed Martin has agreed to pay $56 in cash for each share of Aerojet Rocketdyne, representing a 33% premium to the company's closing price on Friday, the 18th of December, 2020.  Under the terms of the purchase, $5 out of the $56 will go towards a special dividend to Aerojet's shareholders, leaving the remaining acquisition price at $51 per share and summing up to $4.4 billion. The special dividend will be paid to Aerojet's shareholders in March next year while the entire acquisition is expected to be completed in the first half of next year.  The $5 billion deal for Aerojet Rocketdyne represents one of the biggest acquisitions in the aerospace industry this year. It's the first major deal spearheaded by Lockheed's new CEO, Jim Taiclet,

SpaceX Shoots For $92B Valuation

The aerospace company SpaceX is seeking to raise a fresh big round of funding at a targeted valuation of up to $92 billion, Business Insider reports , citing "two people with knowledge of the deal". SpaceX just raised a $1.9 billion round at a valuation of $46 billion this August so a target to now double that valuation seems very ambitious. Since its inception, the company has raised a total of $5.4 billion in venture funding so it doesn't seem to have a problem attracting big investors. SpaceX is ramping up its Starlink satellite and Starship rocket programs so likely requires more capital to uphold those projects, which aren't currently generating revenue for the company. Just recently, the company flew its Starship rocket to its highest altitude yet in a test flight before it exploded during the process of landing back on Earth. Likewise, SpaceX is making significant progress on its Starlink satellite project and has launched nearly a thousand satellites out of

SpaceX Nabs $885M Starlink Aid From FCC

The aerospace company SpaceX has been awarded the sum of $885 million in federal subsidies from the US government under a program from the  US  Federal Communications Commission (FCC)  that doled out $9.2 billion in aid to dozens of companies for the deployment of  high-speed broadband internet service to underserved rural areas. The FCC awarded nearly $900 million in aid to SpaceX for its Starlink satellite internet network which is still in the works. Starlink consists of a planned constellation of 42,000 satellites that'll beam internet access to areas on Earth. So far, it's gotten approval from the FCC to launch 12,000 satellites and has launched nearly 1,000 satellites for the initial phase. Starlink satellite deployed over Earth. The Covid-19 pandemic this year has proved the importance of high-speed internet access as a utility, whereas rural areas in the US are usually underserved and don't have access to the high-speed internet access available in cities. For refe

Aevum Unveils Satellite-Launching Drone

Aevum, an Alabama-based aerospace startup, has unveiled a big autonomous drone that it aims to use to deliver satellites into space. The unveiling of the new drone comes after Aevum had secured contracts for 20 satellite missions from the US government that could be worth up to $986 million if fulfilled. Aevum's drone, named Ravn X is 80 ft. long, has a 60 ft. wingspan, is 18 ft. tall, and has a gross takeoff weight of 55,000 lbs. Aevum says it'll be 70% reusable out of the gate and will be up to 95% reusable 'in the near future'. The company says Ravn X uses the same jet fuel as a normal airplane and will be able to launch from any 1-mile runway. The design of the newly-unveiled drone was five years in the making, wherein Aevum worked from its headquarters in the state of Alabama to come up with the concept. Aevum is working to fulfill its first mission next year for the United States Space Force, wherein it's picked up an initial $4.9 million satellite launch con

Sequoia Bets $500M On SpaceX

This August, SpaceX raised $1.9 billion in new funding that was made known by filings with the US Securities and Exchanges Commission. The company didn't put out a formal press release regarding the round, leaving speculation as to who wrote the checks. Now, the news site The Information reports that Sequoia Capital led the round with a $500 million investment from its part. Sequoia is a big venture capital firm with billions of dollars of capital under its management so writing a $500 million check to SpaceX doesn't seem startling. Sequoia is, however, not much big into aerospace and high-tech companies like SpaceX, with most of its investments having gone to software-based companies. Sequoia is a storied venture capital firm that has clinched very successful exits on companies like Google, Instagram, Square, and Oracle. SpaceX seems to be the first aerospace company that the venture capital firm has ever backed. The $1.9 billion round that SpaceX raised in August pegged it

Relativity Space Nabs $500M Round

Relativity Space, a Los Angeles-based startup that's working on 3D-printed rockets, has announced that it's raised $500 million in Series D funding from a party of investors led by the hedge fund Tiger Global. Other notable participants in the round include General Catalyst, Baillie Gifford, Fidelity, Mary Meeker's Bond, Playground Global, and entrepreneurs Mark Cuban and Spencer Rascoff (Zillow). The $500 million round represents one of the largest-ever single rounds for a space startup, on par with several rounds raised by the aerospace leader SpaceX. Although the valuation that came with the round isn't disclosed, previous reports that shed light on the funding round even before its formal announcement pegged the valuation at $2.3 billion. Relativity Space is a very notable company, given its work on 3D printing rockets and rocket parts. It's the first known company that's looking to 3D print the majority of an entire rocket, with an aim of making the rocket

SpaceX Set For Historic Crew Mission

  Astronauts Michael Hopkins (left) and Soichi Noguchi (right).  Photo credit: NASA After getting formally certified earlier this month by NASA for crew missions to and fro the International Space Station following the success of its recent pilot mission when it sent two astronauts to the ISS on the Falcon 9 in May and successfully returned them in August, the aerospace company SpaceX is set to perform another crew mission, this time with four astronauts that'll it send to the International Space Station aboard a Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon human spaceflight system on Sunday night. SpaceX is set to send four astronauts into space, three of whom are from America's NASA and one from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). They are by names Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker, and Soichi Noguchi, heading on a mission to the ISS that'll last for six months.  The crew mission is the first out of three that are scheduled to take place over this year and the next. Sp

Astroscale Lands $51 Million Round

Nobu Okada, CEO, Astroscale. Photo credit: Tech In Asia Astroscale, a Japanese orbital debris removal company, has announced that it's secured $51 million in Series E funding led by investment firm aSTART, a funding round that brings the total amount of financing raised by the company to $191 million. Astroscale will use the new funding to further its business of helping space and satellite companies to recover orbital debris from space.  A significant problem for space exploration is the presence of debris from satellites or parts of satellites launched into space from earth and discarded after use or tests. Astroscale, now Japan's most funded private space venture, has stepped in to address that problem by looking to offer space debris removal missions. Astroscale was founded in 2013 and raised its first external funding round two years later. Most of the company's investors hail from Japan where it's based while also maintaining other offices in the US, UK, Israel, a

Momentus Eyes Reverse Listing

Mikhail Kokorich, Founder and CEO, Momentus. Photo credit: Steve Jurvetson on Flickr , licensed under Creative Commons Momentus, a space transportation company, is in discussions to go public by the way of a reverse merger with Stable Road Acquisition Corp, a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), according to a report [paywall] from Bloomberg . Momentus is said to be targeting a valuation of nearly $1 billion from its reverse merger. Stable Road Acquisition Corp, the reported SPAC mergee, raised $172.5 million in its public market debut in November last year, money that'll be transferred to Momentus in the case of a merger. Momentus, a Y Combinator alum, is a space transportation company with ambitions of providing “last-mile delivery” in space by transporting satellites and cargo to specific orbits using a specially made vehicle named the  Vigoride . The Vigoride is akin to a delivery truck that'll bring a package to its final destination after a large cargo aircraft de

SpaceX Wins US Deal To Build Satellites

Photo credit: NASA Johnson Aerospace company SpaceX has won a $149 million contract to build missile-tracking satellites for the U.S. Space Development Agency (SDA), marking the aerospace company's first-ever such government contract to build satellites. The contract stipulates that SpaceX will build four overhead persistent infrared imaging (OPIR) satellites that'll be able to "provide missile tracking data for hypersonic glide vehicles and the next generation of advanced missile threats". SpaceX won its contract along with L3Harris Technologies, another defense contracting giant that'll itself also build four missile-tracking satellites for the U.S. Space Development Agency (SDA). L3Harris is, however, charging a substantially higher $193 million for its portion of the contract. SpaceX will construct the missile tracking satellites at its assembly plant in Redmond, Washington, where it currently assembles its Starlink internet satellites. The company will build

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Alert: Nikola Founder Trevor Milton Indicted On Fraud Charges

The founder of embattled electric car startup Nikola Corp. has been formally indicted on fraud charges by the US Justice Department months after resigning from the company. Trevor Milton by name, he's been accused of securities and wire fraud in connection with a scheme to defraud and mislead investors. Milton is accused of misleading investors by making false statements regarding Nikola's products and capabilities. Notably, most of the investors allegedly misled were on the retail side. The DOJ alleges that Milton made false claims regarding "nearly all aspects" of Nikola's business. Milton founded Nikola in 2014 and led it through a public listing via a merger with a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) last year. The DOJ threw an apparent jab at SPACs in his indictment, asserting that he made 'many' of his false and misleading claims  during a period where he would not have been allowed to do so under rules that govern traditional IPOs were he

Earnings: AMD Doubles Revenue, Triples Profit

In this earnings season, companies all over are dropping their latest quarterly results and we're here equally reporting on them. We've touched on social media companies Snap Inc and Twitter , electric carmaker Tesla , and iPhone maker Apple . Now, the next is chipmaker AMD Inc . AMD has dropped its earnings for the second quarter of 2021, showing strong prospects as revenue doubled year-over-year and net income more than tripled.   Details AMD posted $3.9bn in revenue in Q2, up 99% year-over-year and 12% from the preceding quarter. For the same period, the company's net income was $710mn , up 352% year-over-year and 28% from the preceding quarter. Doubling its revenue and nearly quadrupling net income indicates AMD has a strong yet fast-growing business. It's bound to grow even more as the company is set to complete its acquisition of rival chipmaker Xilinx . AMD makes money selling high-performance chipsets used in computers, consoles, data centers, and the likes

Antitrust: Amazon Fined $900M By EU For Privacy Violations

Tech behemoth Amazon is for the nth time in the crosshairs of the European Union (EU). The latest saga in that arena is that Amazon has been fined a record-breaking amount for alleged privacy violations, according to an SEC filing from the company. Amazon has been fined the sum of €746 million ($888mn) by the Luxembourg National Commission for Data Protection (CNPD) for not complying with data privacy laws. It's the largest fine imposed under Europe's data protection law.  The fine originates from the CNPD accusing Amazon of processing customers' personal data in violation of the EU's famous-cum-infamous General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) laws.  In June, it was reported ( WSJ )  that the Luxembourg data protection agency had sanctioned Amazon's privacy practices and proposed a fine topping $425mn to the EU's other two-dozen or so national data protection authorities. Now, it appears that the final fine is much larger than that.  Before now, the bigges

Deal: Qualtrics Buys CX Startup Clarabridge For $1.1B

Months after getting spun out of SAP into a separate public company, Qualtrics , a major provider of online survey software, has made a major acquisition. It's agreed to buy Clarabridge , a startup that does similar work to Qualtrics in the field fondly referred to as "customer experience (CX)". Qualtrics will pay $1.1bn all with shares to buy Clarabridge. The acquisition is a major strategic play for the company, pairing Qualtrics' customer survey business with Clarabridge's similar business of measuring customer sentiment from various sources like social media posts and customer support calls. Basically, Qualtrics is in the business of weighing customer surveys directly and Clarabridge in the business of doing so indirectly . Pairing both businesses represents a major strategic play for Qualtrics. In an investor presentation, Qualtrics said that Clarabridge has $100mn in annual revenue, implying an 11x multiple that it's paying to buy the company. That&#

Deal: Amgen Buys Biotech Startup Teneobio In $2.5B Deal

It appears that this Covid era has led to a boom for companies that work on  antibodies , which are protective proteins produced by the human immune system to tackle foreign substances, usually viruses. Antibodies are very useful in the research and treatment of viruses such as Covid. There are companies that specialize in antibodies and one of them, BioLegend , was recently bought for a whopping $5.3bn . Now, another such company, Teneobio , is getting bought for a big amount. Teneobio has agreed to be acquired by Amgen , an American biotech giant. Amgen is paying $900mn upfront for the company, then an additional $1.6bn in cash contingent on the company hitting certain milestones. It sums up to a $2.5bn deal . Teneobio is a clinical-stage biotech startup working on antibodies aimed at treating cancer, autoimmunity, and other infectious diseases. As it's still in the clinical trial stage with no viable product yet, it appears that Amgen is betting big on Teneobio's trials b

Antitrust: UK Probes Facebook's $1B Kustomer Acquisition

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Hollywood: Reese Witherspoon's Media Co. Sold In $900M Deal

A media company founded by superstar actress Reese Witherspoon has sold for a large amount to a company still in its infancy that hasn't even been named yet. That company is Hello Sunshine , a media company that produces content distributed across various platforms; movies, TV shows, podcasts, et al. Hello Sunshine has been sold to a newly-formed media venture t hat's backed by investment capital from Blackstone , the private equity giant.  The venture is led by ex Disney honchos Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs .  As it is, the Blackstone-funded venture is acquiring a majority stake in Hello Sunshine from a group of external investors while anchor shareholders like Witherspoon and her founding partners will roll over and retain their equity stakes in the newly-formed venture. Officially, the deal's financial terms weren't disclosed, but a report from The Wall Street Journal says it's a $900mn deal. According to the report, the Blackstone-funded venture will pay $500mn

Earnings: Shopify Beats Estimates, Reaches Major Milestone

In this season of earnings results and we at The Techee  reporting on them, we're here with a beat on Shopify , which has released its earnings statement for the second quarter (April-June) of this year. In Q2, Shopify beat revenue expectations from analysts and as well achieved a major financial milestone by crossing $1bn in quarterly revenue for the first time. Shopify had $1.1bn in revenue in the quarter, up 57% year-over-year. Net income for the same period was $897mn , most of which was due to a $778mn gain in equity investments, likely from Shopify's stake in Affirm , a major 'buy now, pay later' lender. As usual, most of Shopify's sales ( $785mn ) came from "Merchant Solutions", which groups additional services the company offers atop recurring subscriptions charged to online retailers. Sales from subscriptions came at $334mn in the quarter. Gross Merchandise Volume (GMV), representing the total worth of transactions made on the Shopify platform,

Alert: Square Buys Australia's Afterpay For $29B

It's a big day in the fintech world. There's been a major acquisition with a major American fintech company, Square , buying Australia's foremost fintech startup, Afterpay , a 'buy now, pay later' lender. Square has reached an agreement to buy Afterpay for a whopping $29bn , marking one of Australia's biggest buyouts. It's a big deal that a startup founded barely seven years ago is selling for $29bn.  Square will pay the $29bn all with shares. It means that shares of Afterpay, which are traded on the Australian Securities Exchange, will be exchanged for Square stock traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Afterpay is Australia's foremost 'buy now, pay later (BNPL)' lender in online retail. For the uninitiated, the 'buy now, pay later' business is a relatively young one providing alternatives to credit cards for consumers to shop online. It provides loans for consumers to shop online and then pay back in installments. Usually, credi

Markets: US SEC Takes Aim At Chinese IPOs

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has taken a swipe at Chinese initial public offerings (IPOs) after regulatory hiccups in China have affected many Chinese stocks listed on US markets and American stockholders holding them. The SEC has issued new guidance on Chinese companies seeking to list shares in the US, requiring them to make certain disclosures to investors or otherwise refrain from listing in the US markets. First of all, usually, Chinese companies listing in the US don't actually sell shares of the operating companies but that of shell companies with contractual relationships with the operating companies. These shell shares, known as American Depositary Receipts (ADRs) , are used to circumvent restrictions on foreign ownership of Chinese shares imposed by the country's government. Now, the SEC in a statement has made it clear that Chinese companies seeking to list in the US must provide clear descriptions of the shell operations involved in such listing