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JD Health shares jump 60% after becoming Hong Kong’s largest IPO of 2020

December 8, 2020, 9:14 AM UTC

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Shares of JD Health, the health care unit of Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com, surged in the company’s debut on the Hong Kong stock exchange on Tuesday to close at HK$114 or $14.71, roughly 60% above list price.

Before trading began, JD Health had raised $3.5 billion at a valuation of $28.5 billion, making it Hong Kong’s largest initial public offering of the year.

The Beijing-based subsidiary of JD.com is the latest in a string of major Chinese tech players opting to list in Hong Kong instead of the U.S., as Washington edges closer to cracking down on Chinese companies listed on U.S. exchanges. JD Health’s parent,JD.com, debuted in a secondary listing in Hong Kong in June that raised $3.9 billion. Observers viewed JD.com’s Hong Kong listing as a hedge against potential new U.S. regulations targeting Chinese companies.

Other Chinese companies like gaming giant NetEase and fast food operator Yum China also pursued secondary listings in Hong Kong this year, following primary listings in the U.S. Now, amid the windfall of new Chinese listings, Hong Kong’s stock exchange is set to raise more funds in 2020 than it has in any year in the past decade. In late November, new listings in Hong Kong had already raised $39.2 billion, and the new listings from JD Health and China’s Evergrande Property Services have since added over $5 billion to that total. For comparison, newly listed companies raised $40.4 billion on Hong Kong’s exchange in 2019 and a record $57.5 billion in 2010.

JD Health’s successful market debut is also proof that there’s still plenty of investor interest in Chinese tech stocks, even after Chinese fintech giant Ant Group suspended plans to debut in Hong Kong in November.  

Ant Group, backed by Chinese tech giant Alibaba, planned to raise $35 billion at a valuation of roughly $310 billion in the world’s largest-ever IPO. Chinese regulators, however, scuttled Ant Group’s IPO plans after they determined that Ant Group would fail to meet proposed anti-monopoly rules.

After Beijing announced the proposed regulations, which are intended to limit the “monopolistic power” of tech platforms by imposing more limits on tactics like user data collection, investors sold off $280 billion worth of Chinese tech stocks in a two-day period.

Since then, the tech stocks have partially recovered, and JD Health’s successful Hong Kong debut indicates that investors are confident the digital health company can withstand new potential regulations.

JD Health CEO Xin Lijun told Bloomberg that no one company can establish a monopoly in online health care given the industry’s fragmented nature and tight state controls around medical services. Those factors may insulate the sector from the new regulation aimed at Chinese tech giants.

JD.com first entered the health care sector in 2013, selling pharmaceutical products online. In 2016, JD.com created a stand-alone JD Pharmacy platform. A year later, JD.com got into the wholesale medicine procurement business for pharmacies and hospitals and launched online health care services. In 2019, JD.com spun these efforts off into the JD Health subsidiary.

In 2020, the pandemic forced millions of customers online, accelerating the digitization of health care services and making JD Health even more appealing to investors. Online health care plugs long-standing holes in China’s health care system, where resources are concentrated at large hospitals in major cities.

JD Health says its user base grew to 72 million people this year, up 30% from 2019. In the first half of 2020, JD Health earned $1.3 billion in revenue, a 76% increase from the same period in the previous year.

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