Business / Gadgets

Weibo paves way for wave of US listings

By Meng Jing (China Daily) Updated: 2014-04-02 15:37

Blogging service to launch a Nasdaq IPO to raise $500m

Sina Corp's Weibo, which offers a micro blog service in China, moved closer to going public in the United States on Monday by choosing the Nasdaq for an initial public offering that could raise up to $500 million.

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and Inc, which are the largest and second-largest e-commerce companies in China, are expected to follow suit with US listings of their own.

With China's Internet sector heading into a new phase of development, marked by an increasing number of mergers and acquisitions, analysts said Wall Street will see more IPOs by Chinese Internet companies. But not all those IPOs will be popular among investors.

Wang Xiaofeng, an analyst with US-basec consultancy Forrester Research Inc, said that with China moving fast into the mobile era, the entire sector is headed for an M&A wave.

"It's natural that an increasing number of Chinese Internet companies are heading to the US market to raise money for investment."

With many Chinese Internet giants such as Tencent Holdings Ltd aiming to expand abroad, "it is not unusual for a large proportion of them to go public in the US," said Wang.

Chinese IPOs in the US fell to two in 2012 after peaking at 39 in 2010. Investors cooled to these issues after several Chinese companies were delisted from US exchanges amid charges of accounting fraud. The situation improved in the middle of 2013, when eight Chinese companies listed in the US during the year.

Li Zhi, chief analyst at IT consultancy Analysys International, said that with China's relatively strong economic growth, many Western investors are willing to bet on shares of Chinese companies.

She said that China's Internet sector, which is undergoing rapid development, has attracted the attention of many US investors.

For example, Vipshop Holdings Ltd, an online fashion retailer, has seen its shares climb 23 times since its US debut in March 2012. The Goldman Sachs Group Inc on Tuesday raised its recommendation on the shares from "neutral" to "buy".

However, Wang said only companies that have built up strength in the mobile Internet space can catch the eyes of US investors.

Wang noted that Sina Weibo moved into the black for the first time in the final quarter of 2013, but that doesn't necessarily signal a great performance in the stock market.

"I think Weibo missed the best time to go public. We are all aware that it has been 'beat up' by Tencent's WeChat, which is the most popular messaging app in China's mobile Internet sector," she said.

Hot Topics

Editor's Picks