Sina, one of China’s biggest Internet portals, is preparing an IPO in the United States for Weibo, its Twitter-like microblogging service

FEBRUARY 24, 2014, 8:04 AM  Comment

Chinese Microblogging Service Plans Public Offering

By DAVID BARBOZA

Updated, 4:10 p.m. |
The Sina Corporation, one of China’s biggest Internet portals, is preparing an initial public offering in the United States for Weibo, itsTwitter-like microblogging service, according to people close to the matter.

The offering, which has not been formally announced, could raise up to $500 million later this year. Goldman Sachs and Credit Suissehave been selected to underwrite the offering, according to the people close to the matter.

Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse declined to comment on Monday, and a Sina representative could not be reached for comment.

Sina’s push to list one of its most popular units comes at a time when Chinese Internet companies are on a manic acquisition spree.

Over the last two years, China’s big three Internet companies —Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent — have spent several billion dollars acquiring Chinese start-ups and international online game companies. They have been buoyed by huge stockpiles of cash and soaring stock prices.

Later this year, two of China’s biggest e-commerce companies — Alibaba and JD.com — are expected to go public in the United States. The Alibaba offering, which has not been completed, could be the biggest stock offering in history, valuing the company at more than $100 billion.

The fortunes of Sina, which is an Internet portal much like Yahoo, rose several years ago when microblogging services became popular in China. Sina’s Weibo led the way, followed by Tencent’s own microblogging service.

Last year, Alibaba paid $586 million to buy an 18 percent stake in Sina Weibo, valuing the company at $3.3 billion. The other 71 percent stake is held by Sina, which is based in Beijing.

Some analysts project that Sina’s Weibo unit could be worth $5 billion, even more than its parent, which is listed on Nasdaq.

The popularity of Sina’s microblogging service has been undermined by government censorship and the spectacular rise of Tencent’s instant-messaging application, WeChat, or Weixin in Chinese. The WeChat service bears some resemblance to the American start-up WhatsApp, which Facebook just agreed to acquire for up to $19 billion.

Chinese Internet companies are Goliaths in their own right. Alibaba, which is privately owned, is valued at about $130 billion, and Tencent, which is listed in Hong Kong, is trading at close to $130 billion. The market value of Baidu, which is listed on Nasdaq, is $60 billion.

Sina’s planned public offering for Weibo was reported on Monday by The Financial Times.

 

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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