Baidu seeks up to US$3.6 billion in Hong Kong share sale as fundraising in city reaches a record in first two months of the year

Georgina Lee
·3-min read

Chinese search engine and artificial intelligence giant Baidu is seeking to raise up to HK$28 billion (US$3.6 billion) in its secondary listing in Hong Kong, the latest US-listed mainland tech giant to sell shares in the city.

Baidu is selling 95 million shares, or about 3.4 per cent of its issued share capital, at a maximum offer price of HK$295 (US$38.02) per share. This gives it a premium of about 12 per cent premium to its American depositary receipts at US$272.38 overnight on Nasdaq.

Still, the international placing tranche, which accounts for 95 per cent of the global offering, could be priced higher than the top-end of HK$295, according to a term sheet seen by the Post, which could enable the company to potentially raise a higher amount from institutional investors. There is an overallotment option of up to 14.3 million additional shares in case of strong investor demand.

Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.

The Hong Kong retail tranche kicked off on Friday and will last through next Wednesday. Listing on the main board is scheduled for March 23 and will trade under the stock code “9888”.

Baidu plans to invest in enhancing the commercialisation of its AI technology, including its AI cloud solutions, and autonomous driving platform Apollo. Photo: Bloomberg
Baidu plans to invest in enhancing the commercialisation of its AI technology, including its AI cloud solutions, and autonomous driving platform Apollo. Photo: Bloomberg

Bank of America, Citic Securities, Goldman Sachs are the joint sponsors and global coordinators of the deal.

Baidu’s deal comes amid the highest-ever fundraising – IPOs and secondary listings – totalling US$9.6 billion from 22 deals on the city’s stock exchange in the first two months of the year, data from Refinitiv shows.

Another Nasdaq-listed Chinese company, video streaming platform Bilibili, is also seeking to raise about US$3 billion in its secondary listing in Hong Kong, the Post reported in January. If such multibillion-dollar deals materialise, it could push the first quarter’s total fund raised on the city’s bourse to a record high.

“We believe we have built a large and strong portfolio of products and services to give Baidu the scale necessary to invest heavily in technology,” the company said in the prospectus.

Baidu plans to use part of the net proceeds on enhancing the commercialisation of its AI technology, including its AI cloud solutions, and autonomous driving platform called Apollo, both of which have in recent years seen rapid growth in Baidu’s diverse business portfolio. Baidu has signed strategic agreements with 10 carmakers to power their passenger vehicles with the Apollo self-driving technologies.

It also plans to use some of the proceeds on upgrading its Baidu mobile app and related ecosystem, which had 544 million users in December 2020.

Baidu also controls online movie and video streaming platform iQiyi. Photo: Handout
Baidu also controls online movie and video streaming platform iQiyi. Photo: Handout

Baidu’s listing plan in Hong Kong comes after it disclosed in February that its full-year net income surged over tenfold, to 22.5 billion yuan (US$3.46 billion) from 2.1 billion yuan in 2019. The big jump, however, was attributable to an 8.9 billion yuan impairment loss that it had booked in 2019 related to its investment in online travel site, Trip.com, it said in the prospectus.

Baidu also controls online movie and video streaming platform iQiyi, which had 101.7 million subscribers as of December 2020 and is separately listed on Nasdaq. It recorded a net loss of 7 billion yuan in 2020, narrowing from 10.3 billion yuan in 2019.


More from South China Morning Post:

This article Baidu seeks up to US$3.6 billion in Hong Kong share sale as fundraising in city reaches a record in first two months of the year first appeared on South China Morning Post

For the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2021.