Stratospheric IPO Debut Makes China’s Kuaishou a Global Media Giant

Shares of Chinese social video company Kuaishou made a stratospheric start in their post-IPO debut on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Early trading on Friday morning saw their price nearly triple, instantly making the TikTok rival one of the world’s largest media groups.

Raising some $6 billion of new cash, the offer was already one of the largest in the Hong Kong market’s history. But investors sought 1,200 times more stock than was available, made it a over-subscription record breaker too.

On Thursday, the firm’s bankers set a per share sale price of HK$115, the top of an indicated range. But that price looked puny when first trades on Friday were conducted at HK$338.

After the first hour, which saw HK$24 billion ($3.08 billion) of trading, the price had steadied at HK$314. While that price level is clearly speculative, it gives the company market capitalization of $165 billion (HK$1.29 trillion).

That is smaller than Facebook ($758 billion) and Disney ($326 billion). But it outranks many of the world’s more established media, entertainment and tech groups.

At these prices Kuaishou is bigger than Japan’s electronics and entertainment leader Sony ($139 billion), and many multiples bigger than Europe’s Vivendi $37 billion (EUR30.8 billion).

Tech rivals are also left behind. At this valuation, Kuaishou is more than three times bigger that Twitter ($45 million), three times the size of NASDAQ-listed Chinese video entertainment firm Bilibili ($49 billion), and vastly bigger than China’s SVOD icon iQIYI ($18 billion). Kuaishou’s valuation is nearly double that of search and AI firm Baidu, a company which only a few years ago was considered in the same league as Alibaba or Tencent.

Still loss-making after ten years, Kuaishou says it aims to rebalance its business model, which is currently dependent on taking a cut of financial gifts paid by fans to popular creators. It wants to increase the proportion of its revenue coming from advertising, to shift into e-commerce, and it wants to go international. Kuaishou has launched an overseas version of its app, called Kwai, in the same way that Bytedance operates Douyin in China, and TikTok in other markets.

With stock this highly-valued, Kuaishou could also be in the market for some acquisitions.

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