Former US SEC chair calls for companies to disclose China risk

By Carolina Mandl

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Big U.S. public companies should start disclosing their exposure to China as part of a pilot program to allow investors and policymakers to see potential risks, Jay Clayton, former chair of the U.S. securities regulator, told lawmakers on Tuesday.

Clayton appeared at a hearing hosted by the House of Representatives Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, which also took testimony from Wall Street investor Jim Chanos, and short-seller Anne Stevenson-Yang. The committee is exploring risks China poses to U.S. financial stability.

In his testimony, the former Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) chair proposed that companies with market capitalizations above $50 billion or with China-based revenues or costs above $10 billion unveil their exposure to the world’s second biggest economy.

He also recommended those companies explain how their operations would be affected in the event of a disruption in U.S.-China economic ties.

His suggestions come as relations between the world’s two biggest economies come under increasing strain over spying allegations, human rights, China’s industrial policies, and U.S. export bans on advanced technologies.

Clayton’s views as the former SEC chair still carry weight among Washington policymakers, though he is no longer in government.

Clayton spent over 20 years as a partner at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP before he became the 32nd chairman of the SEC in 2017 under former President Donald Trump’s government. He currently serves as a senior policy adviser at the New York-based law firm.

“Investors will respond,” Clayton said. “If it’s demonstrated to investors the level of risk has increased, they will pull back. If the level of risk is decreased, they will invest,” he said, adding more disclosure would reduce systemic risk.

(Reporting by Carolina Mandl, in New York; editing by Michelle Price, Chizu Nomiyama)