Chinese search engine Baidu Inc. raised 23.9 billion HKD ($3.1 billion) in its Hong Kong share sale, sealing the latest in a string of blockbuster equity offerings in the financial hub.
The company priced its sale of 95 million shares at 252 HKD each, according to a filing Wednesday. That represents a nearly 3 percent discount to Baidu’s Tuesday closing price in New York of $266.78.
One of Baidu’s American depositary shares is equal to eight of the ordinary shares being listed in Hong Kong.
Nasdaq-listed Baidu follows online car-sales website Autohome Inc. in seeking a trading foothold in Hong Kong, after a wave of such share sales in 2020 which saw some $17 billion raised. Other companies looking at selling shares in the city include Tencent Music Entertainment Group and video site Bilibili Inc.
At $3.1 billion, Baidu’s listing is the biggest such homecoming of a US-traded Chinese company in Hong Kong since NetEase Inc.’s June 2020 offering, which raised 24.3 billion HKD. A growing cohort of Chinese firms have been seeking to expand their investor bases closer to home amid deteriorating relations between the world’s two biggest economies.
The trend has boosted the listing volumes for Hong Kong’s bourse, which now has a growing contingent of technology firms trading in the city. Globally, initial public offerings are on track for a record first quarter, thanks to a US-led boom in blank-check companies, even as volatility has increased in markets following concerns about rising inflation.
Once one of China’s tech leaders, Baidu is now playing catch-up as the country’s internet users increasingly shift from desktop to mobile. In recent years the company has spent billions of dollars in areas such as language learning and autonomous driving, betting on smart devices and vehicles of the future.
Bank of America Corp., CLSA Ltd. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. are joint sponsors of the offering, while China International Capital Corp., UBS Group AG and CCB International Holdings Ltd. are joint global coordinators. Baidu’s shares are due to start trading in Hong Kong on March 23, according to Wednesday’s statement.
By Julia Fioretti.