Sunday, May 10, 2020

1st Chinese IPO in U.S. Since Covid-19 Blasts Past Headwinds

China's angel investor and tech
entrepreneur Lei Jun
In the first significant IPO since the coronavirus pandemic and the first Chinese listing since the Luckin Coffee fiasco, Kingsoft's cloud spin-off raised $510 million on Nasdaq at a $3.5 billion market cap, despite the tough stock market environment and negative U.S.-China relations. 
As readers of Tech Titans of China know, Kingsoft is the company that famed Chinese serial entrepreneur Lei Jun ran and spearheaded its transformation from a struggling word processing software maker to a games and computer security business and onward to a public listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2007. After that listing, Lei returned as chairman to lead Kingsoft into the mobile internet era. 
Now, the spin-off of Kingsoft Cloud as an independently operated company, the deal is a payday for early backers, Xiaomi founder and angel investor Lei and the parent Kingsoft which owned 54 percent, and Chinese private equity firm FutureX Capital and its founder Cynthia Zhang, with 5.7 percent of the shares. The China-based cloud service provider closed up 40 percent on its trading debut on Nasdaq. 
While unprofitable with an operating loss last year of 1.14 billion yuan ($161 milllion), the company grew revenues in 2019 by 78 percent to RMB 3.96 billion ($560 million). Kingsoft Cloud has growth opportunity in China's large and relatively un-penetrated cloud computing market, but faces steep competition from much larger players. The Kingsoft spin-off will use the capital to invest in technology and product development.  Kingsoft is the third largest provider of internet cloud services in China in a market of $23 billion, according to consultancy Frost & Sullivan. It competes against tech titans Tencent Cloud and Alibaba Cloud.  
It was the busiest week for the IPO market since February, with three upsized IPOs, according to IPO tracker Renaissance Capital. The two others were London-based GAN, an Internet gambling software maker, and oncology biotech Ayala Pharmaceutical in the U.S. and Israel.