Tesla challenger Xpeng loses gains in Hong Kong stock debut amid tech sector wobble

·4-min read

Chinese electric-vehicle start-up Xpeng ended its Hong Kong trading debut without any upside for investors after its US$1.8 billion stock offering, as the broader market slumped amid heightened regulatory risks surrounding technology companies.

The stock closed at HK$165, unchanged from its IPO price, after logging a 1.8 per cent gain to HK$168 in opening trades. The shares, which trade under the 9868 stock code, were earlier indicated at HK$162 in grey-market trading late Tuesday. The Hang Seng Index fell about 0.4 per cent, a seventh straight day of losses and the longest streak since June 10.

Xpeng’s American depositary shares climbed 0.7 per cent to US$44.05 in overnight US trading. The EV maker raised US$1.5 billion in August last year by selling 99.7 million American depositary shares at US$15 each. The Hong Kong listing made it the first US-listed Chinese firm with dual primary listing.

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“Given the relatively volatile market environment we are facing in recent days, we feel very gratified that Xpeng could still complete today’s listing in Hong Kong,” vice-chairman Brian Gu said after the listing ceremony. “What’s more important to us is that through a dual-primary listing, our ability in dealing with various risks or volatility that occur in the capital markets has improved.”

An XPeng P7 performance electric vehicle is seen outside the New York Stock Exchange in August 2020. Photo: Reuters
An XPeng P7 performance electric vehicle is seen outside the New York Stock Exchange in August 2020. Photo: Reuters

The weak debut follows a slump in Didi Chuxing below its IPO price in overnight US trading, and the biggest plunge in nearly two months in 50 biggest US-listed Chinese stocks compiled by S&P. The State Council, China’s cabinet, late Tuesday said the government would be revising rules on offshore stock sales by Chinese companies and also tightening regulations on data security and cross-border flow.

The statement also came after the nation’s cyberspace security agency roiled markets by ordering ride-hailing firm Didi Chuxing off the nation’s app stores on Sunday, barely days after its blockbuster US$4.44 billion IPO in New York. The agency later announced further probes into other US-listed Chinese firm, citing national security and data privacy concerns.

Gu declined to comment on whether these Chinese companies would face more risks associated with their US listings going forward, given the limited information at the moment. Still, Xpeng has always been subject to various regulations in markets where it operates.

Xpeng’s dual primary listing with weighted voting rights marked as another important milestone, and the stock exchange welcomes more such candidates, especially among new economy companies from China and global firms, said Nicolas Aguzin, chief executive of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing, the bourse operator.

Xpeng’s Gu said he is looking forward to seeing its stock joining the Stock Connect cross-border trading link so that its EV owners in mainland China could also become its investors and supporters.

Xpeng, the Guangzhou-based carmaker seen as one of top three challengers to Tesla in the local market, sold 85 million shares to raise HK$14 billion (US$1.8 billion). It ranked as the fifth-largest IPO in Hong Kong, after Kuaishou Technology. JD Logistics, Baidu and Bilibili.

The firm has been unprofitable since its inception, losing more than 9 billion yuan between 2018 and March this year, building less than 3 per cent share in the domestic EV market littered with more than 50 players.

He Xiaopeng counts Bumblebee as his muse as Xpeng drives his vision on the future of mobility

Xpeng delivered a record 13,340 units of EVs in the three months to March 31, 2021 versus 2,271 in the same period a year earlier, according to its IPO prospectus. Sales have risen to 27,041 units in 2020 from 12,728 in 2019 and only 29 units in its first sales in late 2018.

The carmaker plans to spend 45 per cent of the cash to expand its product portfolio and development of more advanced technology, 35 per cent to accelerate its market expansion and about 10 per cent to boost its production capability.

JPMorgan Chase and BofA Securities were the IPO joint sponsors of the Hong Kong IPO.

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