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Do U.S. markets still have an appetite for Chinese IPOs?

May 11, 2020, 2:15 PM UTC

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Chinese IPOs in the U.S. still live—at least for some companies.

Chinese cloud-computing firm Kingsoft Cloud closed 40% up in its first day of trading Friday, after raising some $510 million via IPO. 

It’s the first IPO of a Chinese company since the blowup of Starbucks competitor Luckin Coffee, which revealed in April that it had fabricated much of its sales in 2019 and suspended its chief operating officer. Roughly two years old, Luckin has raised over $1.5 billion from investors over the past year.

Kingsoft’s IPO is being posed as an example of continued U.S. appetite for Chinese IPOs despite distrust sowed by Luckin—but there’s more nuance here that puts Kingsoft in a different bucket. 

For starters, the cloud company is a Saas business, among the echelon of companies expected to do well amid the coronavirus if not boom. Kingsoft also has a proven entrepreneur at its back— CEO of smartphone maker Xiaomi, Lei Jun, who is chairman at Kingsoft and owns a 14% stake in the company (The relationship extends even beyond that, with Xiaomi making up 14.4% of Kingsoft’s revenue in 2019).

Other Chinese IPOs will find demand like Kingsoft, but such companies will generally endure heavier scrutiny amid Sino-U.S. tensions that have only worsened over the coronavirus. Days before Kingsoft’s offering, Sen. Marco Rubio (R.-Fla.) tweeted: “Didn’t last month’s Luckin Coffee scandal show us why no new listings from #China should be allowed until US regulators can inspect the books of all firms who wish to be traded on our exchanges?” Kingsoft investors have so far disagreed with that assessment—but not all will be so lucky.

One more U.S.-listing Chinese company that is barely limping along: Ebang, a major maker of bitcoin mining equipment that previously sought to go public on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2018, filed to raise $100 million recently in the U.S. but posted a precipitous 66% drop in revenues from a year earlier to $109 million in 2019.

The great Tesla debate: The electric car maker is at the center of the greatly politicized and geographically fractured debate over when and how to reopen the country.

A known critic of lockdown orders, Tesla CEO Elon Musk filed a lawsuit against Alameda County, where its main factory is based, over when it could reopen the plant. He also threatened to leave California.

Over the weekend, Republican lawmakers in certain states jumped on the threats, with those in Georgia and Utah (both partially reopening) inviting his business while a Democrat assemblywoman in California (still in lockdown mode) had other choice words for the CEO.

Large Silicon Valley giants are setting their own deadlines—usually further out—for reopening. Google and Facebook, for instance, have told employees that they can work from home until the end of the year. But Tesla’s business requires physical goods to ship for the company to work, a lesser issue for the likes of a search engine or social media company. For the same reason, though, Tesla may find it harder to move its equipment-heavy operations out of state.

It’s a new debate: Will companies move to other states with lower corporate tax thresholds and laxer stay-at-home policies amid the coronavirus?

For an easier read: With surge in bankruptcies and breakups amid the market dislocation, we have added a new segment below around bankruptcies and broken deals.

Lucinda Shen
Twitter: @shenlucinda


- Carta, a Palo Alto-based capitalization management platform, raised $180 million in funding, valuing the company at $3.1 billion. Lightspeed Ventures and Tribe Capital co-led the round.

- Carbon Health, a healthcare provider, raised $28 million in an extended Series B. DCVC was the investor.

- Ai-Media, a Sydney, Australia, based live and recorded captioning, transcription and translation services, raised  A$10.3 million (US$6.6 million) from investors including CVC Emerging Companies Fund and Anzu Partners. Ai-Media also acquired Alternative Communications Services (ACS), a U.S.-based captioning service.

- Lucid Lane, a Los Altos, Calif.-based platform to patients on opioids and antidepressants, raised $4 million in seed funding. Battery Ventures and AME Cloud Ventures were the investors. Read more.

- BurnAlong, a Pikesville-based video health and wellness platform, raised $4 million in funding. Unnamed existing investors led the round, and were joined by investors including  DM Wellness and CR2 Ventures

- Spiceology, a Spokane, Wash-based spice company, raised $2 million in funding. Cowles Company led the round and was joined by investors including Kickstart Funds.


- Bain Capital is acquiring a 44% stake in Nichii Gakkan (TYO: 9790), a Japanese nursing home operator, for $1 billion, per the Financial Times citing sources. Read more. The deal would take the company private.

- Bain Capital completed an $817 million deal to acquire Showa Aircraft Industry, a Japanese manufacturing company. The deal takes Showa private.  Read more.

- CenterOak Partners acquired Temple Associates, a Sacramento, Calif.-based distributor of loose abrasives and blast equipment. The firm also formed SurfacePrep, a Grand Rapids, Mich-based  distributor of abrasives and specialty ceramics, by combining Temple with GNAP and 10 strategic acquisitions. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Quirch Foods, backed by Palladium Equity Partners, acquired Butts Foods, a Jackson, Tenn.-based protein distributor with five facilities in Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi. Financial terms weren't disclosed.


- Vroom, an online used car seller, filed confidentially for an initial public offering it hopes to stage in June, per the Wall Street Journal citing sources. Read more.


- The Saudi Wealth Fund is weighing an investment in Reliance Jio, India’s telecom giant. Read more.

- Shandong Gold Mining agreed to acquire TMAC Resources (TSX:TMR), a Toronto-based gold mining operation, for around C$230 million ($164.89 million). Read more.

- The Charles Schwab Corp. will acquire the technology and intellectual property of Motif, a San Mateo, Calif.-based maker of thematic portfolios, for cash. Read more.

- York Telecom Corporation acquired Video Corporation of America, a Somerset, N.J.-based maker of audio visual communications solutions and support services, via a Chapter 11 process. Financial terms weren't disclosed.


- Carlyle Group and GIC are backing away from a deal to take a 20% stake in American Express Global Business Travel, which offer travel-booking services to mid to large-sized businesses. Read more.

- Avianca Holdings, Latin America’s second-largest airline, filed for bankruptcy. Read more.

- Stage Stores (NYSE:SSI), a discount retailer,  has filed for files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.


- Apttus, backed by Thoma Bravo, agreed to buy Conga, a maker of document generation applications, for $715 million per Bloomberg. Insight Partners will retain a stake in the company. Read more.


- Thoma Bravo is seeking $3 billion for its third middle market fund, per the Wall Street Journal citing sources. Read more.

- Summit Partners aims to raise $963 million for its fifth venture fund. Read more.