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HONG KONG EXCHANGES AND CLEARING LIMITED

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Delayed Hong Kong Stock Exchange  -  05/25 04:08:04 am EDT
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China's Ctrip in talks with investors to delist from Nasdaq - sources

07/28/2020 | 03:01am EDT

HONG KONG, July 28 (Reuters) - Chinese online travel giant Ctrip is in talks with potential investors about funding its delisting from Nasdaq because of rising U.S.-China tensions and the coronavirus-driven hit to its business, sources told Reuters.

The management of China's largest online travel firm, with a current market value of $16.5 billion, has reached out to a number of financial and strategic investors including private equity firms and domestic tech companies about joining a take-private deal, said four people with direct knowledge of the matter.

Ctrip's move comes as U.S.-listed Chinese companies face tightened scrutiny and more strict audit requirements from U.S. regulators, while geopolitical tensions escalate between the world's two largest economies. Those have prompted a number of Chinese companies to abandon a New York listing and move instead to an exchange closer to home.

Ctrip's delisting discussions, which have not been reported previously, are at an early stage and are subject to change, cautioned the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the matter is not public.

Ctrip, also known as Trip.com Group Ltd, declined to comment.

There have been six announced take-privates of U.S.-listed Chinese companies worth $9.1 billion so far this year, showed Refinitiv data. The average premiums paid by buyers, however, almost halved to 22% from 42% last year.

Just on Monday, China's Sogou Inc said shareholder Tencent Holdings made a preliminary offer to buy the rest of the web search firm it did not already control, in a deal that valued the company at about $3.5 billion.

Deals being discussed include a delisting of search engine giant Baidu Inc, Reuters reported in May.

Both Ctrip and Baidu have held preliminary talks with Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing about a possible secondary listing, Reuters reported in January.

Ctrip later decided to delist as the coronavirus outbreak hit its businesses badly in the first half and has weighed heavily on its valuation, said one of the people.

It reported a 42% year-on-year drop in net revenue in the first quarter of 2020 and a net loss of 5.4 billion yuan ($754 million). The company said it expected net revenue to decrease by about 67% to 77% year-over-year for the second quarter of 2020 due to COVID-19's continued impact.

Its shares have fallen 17% so far this year while the Nasdaq Golden Dragon China Index, which tracks Chinese firms listed on the U.S. exchange, has gained 22% over the same period.

Ctrip's diversified ownership structure, however, would present a challenge to getting shareholders' backing for the delisting plans. Its biggest shareholder Baidu only held a 11.7% stake, followed by Scottish fund manager Baillie Gifford's 7.7%, as of the end of last year, according to its 2019 annual report .

Its co-founders James Liang and Fan Min and other executives owned a combined 5.9% stake, showed the report.

Founded in 1999, Ctrip went public on Nasdaq in 2003, as part of an early wave of Chinese tech companies lured by high valuations overseas. (Reporting by Julie Zhu and Kane Wu in Hong Kong; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)


© Reuters 2020
Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
BAIDU, INC. 1.37% 117.49 Delayed Quote.-22.22%
CHINA INDEX HOLDINGS LIMITED -0.14% 0.710101 Delayed Quote.-26.69%
HONG KONG EXCHANGES AND CLEARING LIMITED -0.06% 324.6 Delayed Quote.-28.68%
NASDAQ COMP. 0.53% 11324.4 Real-time Quote.-28.00%
TENCENT HOLDINGS LIMITED -1.18% 334 Delayed Quote.-26.01%
TONGCHENG TRAVEL HOLDINGS LIMITED -3.11% 12.48 Delayed Quote.-10.80%
TRIP.COM GROUP LIMITED 0.26% 19.41 Delayed Quote.-17.42%
UNITED STATES DOLLAR (B) / CHINESE YUAN IN HONG KONG (USD/CNH) 0.86% 6.71398 Delayed Quote.4.79%
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Financials
Sales 2022 20 986 M 2 674 M 2 674 M
Net income 2022 12 524 M 1 596 M 1 596 M
Net cash 2022 22 443 M 2 859 M 2 859 M
P/E ratio 2022 32,9x
Yield 2022 2,68%
Capitalization 411 B 52 331 M 52 331 M
EV / Sales 2022 18,5x
EV / Sales 2023 12,4x
Nbr of Employees 2 146
Free-Float 94,1%
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Number of Analysts 30
Last Close Price 324,60 HKD
Average target price 430,04 HKD
Spread / Average Target 32,5%
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Managers and Directors
Alejandro Nicolas Aguzin Chief Executive Officer & Executive Director
Chi Kin Tai President & Chief Operating Officer
Bik Yun Lau Group Chief Financial Officer
May Lung Cha Non-Executive Chairman
Chung Kwong Leung Group Chief Technology Officer
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