Maoyan, China’s largest online movie ticket service, files to go public in Hong Kong

Tencent-backed Maoyan Weiying, China’s largest online movie ticketing service, has filed for a public offering on the Hong Kong stock exchange. The company, which submitted a prospectus under the name Entertainment Plus, didn’t say when the IPO will be or valuation details, but reports earlier this year said Maoyan aims to raise up to $1 billion.

The timing of Maoyan’s IPO is noteworthy because it comes as another Tencent investment, Meituan-Dianping, is preparing for its own debut (Meituan is also one of Maoyan’s investors). Both Meituan and Maoyan are key chess pieces in Tencent’s online-to-offline services rivalry with Alibaba. Meituan holds the leading market share for online services in China by market volume, though Alibaba wants to challenge that with and Kuobei, which it recently raised $3 billion for after consolidating the two into one holding company. Likewise, Maoyan is the largest online movie ticketing app service in China, but is up against Alibaba’s Tao Piao Piao.

Last November, Maoyan raised RMB 1 billion (about $150 million) from Tencent at a RMB 20 billion valuation, a couple of months after merging with Weiying, another ticketing service backed by Tencent. In addition to Tencent and Meituan, Maoyan’s investors include Beijing-based Enlight Media. It also co-finances and distributes movies in China, such as Paramount’s “Transformers: The Last Knight.”

Both Maoyan and Tao Piao Piao are fighting for domination of what is set to become the world’s biggest market for movies. In its prospectus, Maoyan cited findings from iResearch that show China’s entertainment market is currently second only to the United States, but is expected to become larger by 2019. It reached a market size of RMB 76.1 billion in 2017 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 20.7% to RMB 194.5 billion by 2022.

Maoyan says its revenue grew to RMB 2.54 billion in 2017 from RMB 596.7 million in 2015, with a CAGR of 106.6%. In the first half of this year, it recorded revenue of RMB 1.9 billion and a net loss of RMB 231 million.

Maoyan says it held market share of 60.9% by gross merchandise volume in the first half of 2018, according to iResearch. The public offering will led by Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.