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TENCENT HOLDINGS LIMITED

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Exclusive: China presses Ximalaya to drop U.S. for Hong Kong as listing venue - sources

05/28/2021 | 07:02am EDT

HONG KONG (Reuters) - China is pressing the country's largest online audio platform Ximalaya to drop plans to list in the United States and go for Hong Kong instead, three people with knowledge of the matter said, showing how the authorities are seeking to further tighten their grip over private media and internet businesses.

Ximalaya, the country's top podcast and audio app operator which aimed to go public in New York as soon as this month, has recently been pushed by China's regulators, including the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), to withdraw the listing plans and go public in Hong Kong instead, they said.

The privately-owned company, backed by tech majors Tencent, Xiaomi, Baidu as well as Sony Music Entertainment, is still in talks with the CAC, the sources said.

It will make a final decision about the listing venue within the next two weeks, they added.

The CAC and Ximalaya did not respond to requests for comment.

Shanghai-based Ximalaya, which filed publicly for the U.S. IPO in late April, has started pre-marketing the float since early May and looked to raise about $500 million, said two of the sources.

The potential change of venue comes as China further tightens its ideological grip on private media and internet businesses amid China-U.S. tensions.

China's ruling Communist Party (CCP) has long maintained a tight grip over ideology and propaganda, especially over state media which it can use to assert its authority.

"Domestic regulators have become more uncomfortable with Chinese media, content firms which operate in the country and obtain voluminous user data, but are incorporated offshore and now seek overseas listings," one of the sources said.

Another of the sources said that the Ximalaya move also comes amid Beijing's growing concerns that U.S. regulators will potentially gain greater access to audit documents of Chinese companies listed in New York, notably those that involve massive user or national data.

In March, the U.S. securities regulator began a rollout of rules that would exclude foreign companies from U.S. exchanges if they do not comply with U.S. auditing standards.

"The CAC thought Hong Kong would be better for ideological platforms such as Ximalaya," said a third person.

Goldman Sachs and Bank of America ,two underwriters on Ximalaya's IPO, declined to comment. The other underwriters Morgan Stanley and CICC did not respond to requests for comment.

Ximalaya had about 250 million monthly active users, nearly a fifth of China's population, in the first quarter of 2021, according to its IPO prospectus. It offers users a platform to access free or paid content from roughly 5.2 million professional or amateur content creators.

(Reporting by Hong Kong Newsroom; Additional reporting by Beijing Newsroom; Editing by Sumeet Chatterjee and Jane Merriman)


ę Reuters 2021
Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
BAIDU, INC. 7.50% 164.8 End-of-day quote.0.00%
BANK OF AMERICA CORPORATION 1.98% 38.865 Delayed Quote.25.80%
MORGAN STANLEY 1.34% 96.61 Delayed Quote.40.19%
SONY GROUP CORPORATION 3.46% 11520 End-of-day quote.12.01%
TENCENT HOLDINGS LIMITED 10.02% 492 End-of-day quote.-12.77%
THE GOLDMAN SACHS GROUP, INC. 1.12% 378.255 Delayed Quote.41.91%
XIAOMI CORPORATION 3.19% 25.9 End-of-day quote.-21.99%
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Financials
Sales 2021 588 B 91 133 M 91 133 M
Net income 2021 148 B 22 903 M 22 903 M
Net cash 2021 117 B 18 090 M 18 090 M
P/E ratio 2021 32,3x
Yield 2021 0,32%
Capitalization 4 681 B 602 B 725 B
EV / Sales 2021 7,76x
EV / Sales 2022 6,32x
Nbr of Employees 89 228
Free-Float 62,4%
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Number of Analysts 52
Last Close Price 492,00 CNY
Average target price 606,50 CNY
Spread / Average Target 23,3%
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Managers and Directors
Hua Teng Ma Executive Chairman & Chief Executive Officer
Chi Ping Lau President & Executive Director
Shek Hon Lo Chief Financial Officer & Senior Vice President
Chen Ye Xu Chief Information Officer
Yu Xin Ren COO & President-Interactive Entertainment Group
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