58.com, the online classifieds marketplace often referred to as the “Craigslist of China,” will hold its initial public offering of 11 million American Depository Shares (ADS) at $17 each on the New York Stock Exchange today. The shares will be listed under the ticker “WUBA.”
Hurst Lin, general partner of DCM, 58.com’s lead investor, tells me that the company will use proceeds from its IPO to focus on product development, especially mobile apps, and launch more verticals. Products that have proven especially successful for 58.com include short-term job classifieds for blue-collar workers. The company plans on developing location-based mobile apps for those listings in order to quickly connect job searchers with nearby opportunities. 58.com was founded in 2005 and booked $107 million in sales during the twelve-months ending in June 2013.
Other Chinese tech companies that plan to hold U.S. IPOs this year include Qunar, a travel Web site owned by Baidu, which wants to raise up to $155 million when it goes public on NASDAQ this week, as well as sports lottery site 500.com and app developer Sungy Mobile, which want to raise $150 million and $80 million, respectively.
E-commerce giant Alibaba might also opt for a U.S. listing in an IPO that could potentially value the company at an impressive $75 billion. Alibaba had originally planned to list on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, but reportedly decided not to because the HKSE’s rules prohibit dual classes of stock and other corporate structures that would make it easier for minority shareholders to hold onto control of a company.
If Alibaba does indeed pursue a U.S. IPO, it may lead the way for other Chinese companies to return to U.S. stock exchanges.
Between 2009 and 2011, 67 Chinese companies went public in the U.S., raising a combined $8.26 billion, according to Dealogic. But the appetite for U.S. listings was hurt by falling stock prices and a U.S.-China regulatory dispute that lead to concerns Chinese companies would be delisted. Since 2011, only five Chinese companies have had a U.S. IPO.
These include tech companies LightInTheBox, which had a successful debut on the New York Stock Exchange in June and online retailer VipShop, which went public in March 2012.