By Joanne Chiu
Mobile-gaming group NetEase Inc. will begin taking investor orders later Monday for a multibillion-dollar Hong Kong share sale, people familiar with the matter said, as momentum builds for U.S.-listed Chinese groups to obtain secondary listings closer to home.
The Nasdaq-listed group's planned secondary offering in Hong Kong comes after a roughly $13 billion Hong Kong debut by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. last year, and is likely to be followed by another stock sale in the city by Chinese e-commerce group JD.com Inc.
NetEase and JD.com are pursuing Hong Kong listings as U.S. lawmakers push for greater financial scrutiny of Chinese companies who trade on American exchanges.
NetEase plans to sell shares at a maximum offer price of HK$126 each ($16.25), the people said. In total, the online-gaming company aims to sell 171 million new shares, one of the people said.
At that price and size, the planned stock sale would in total raise as much as 21.5 billion Hong Kong dollars ($2.78 billion). The shares are due to start trading in Hong Kong on June 11.
A public offering reserved for individual investors will begin Tuesday and will account for about 3% of the total shares being sold, according to a person familiar with the situation.
China International Capital Corp., Credit Suisse and JPMorgan are the deal's joint sponsors, or the most senior banks on the deal.
NetEase joined the Nasdaq in 2000. Its American depositary receipts have risen nearly 25% this year, giving it a market capitalization of more than $49 billion as of Friday. Each depositary receipt is equivalent to 25 ordinary shares.
This is a sensitive time for U.S.-listed Chinese companies. The Senate passed a bill in May that would kick Chinese companies off U.S. stock exchanges unless their audits are inspected by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's audit-watchdog arm.
Hong Kong's stock exchange in 2018 revamped its rules to court more listings from technology and biotechnology groups.
"I believe that returning to a market that is closer to our roots will further fuel our passion in our business and our users," William Ding, NetEase's founder and chief executive, said in a letter to investors that was included in the group's listing document.
NetEase said it plans to spend some of the proceeds on expanding its online-game offerings in overseas markets including Japan, the U.S., Europe and Southeast Asia, and some on technology.
In January to March, NetEase's net revenue rose 18.3% from a year earlier, to $2.4 billion, while net income from continuing operations rose 49% to $501.5 million.
Write to Joanne Chiu at email@example.com