The New York Stock Exchange is reconsidering its decision to halt the delisting of three major Chinese telecommunications firms after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told the Big Board he opposed its shock announcement to grant the companies a reprieve, said three people familiar with the matter.
Mr. Mnuchin called NYSE Group Inc. President Stacey Cunningham Tuesday to express his disapproval, said the people, who asked not to be named in discussing a private conversation.
NYSE's announcement Monday that it wouldn't remove the companies — China Mobile Ltd., China Telecom Corp. and China Unicom Hong Kong Ltd. — caught some officials at the White House, Treasury and State departments off guard. It also sowed confusion among the regulators who had helped craft the order signed by President Donald Trump in November that requires American investors to unload Chinese businesses deemed as posing a threat to U.S. national security.
NYSE first announced it would delist the companies on New Year's Eve. The remarkable back-and-forth — along with opaque statements from Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control on how soon action was required and which securities would be affected — has confounded U.S. brokers and asset managers, and triggered uncertainty for traders worldwide.
The NYSE's initial decision was meant to comply with the order but the exchange changed course when it became unclear that the companies were actually banned, according to people familiar with the matter. If and when the exchange receives confirmation from the government about what's prohibited, it will move forward with delisting, the people said. Treasury may provide further clarification through OFAC, one person said.
NYSE and Treasury spokesmen declined to comment. Treasury released a document Monday that offered clarifications on the order hours before the exchange announced its decision to not delist the companies.