SenseTime restarts its IPO after securing $512 million from cornerstone investors

December 20, 2021, 4:36 AM UTC

Chinese artificial intelligence firm SenseTime Group Inc. secured about $512 million from nine cornerstone investors, as it reopened orders Monday for a Hong Kong initial public offering delayed by concerns over U.S. sanctions.

State-backed Mixed-Ownership Reform Fund and Shanghai Xuhui Capital Investment Co. are among those that have committed to buying the shares, according to the latest terms of the IPO. 

The original share-sale schedule was derailed earlier this month after a move by the U.S. Treasury Department to sanction the company for its alleged role in creating facial-recognition software used in the oppression of Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang autonomous region of western China. The company has said the accusations are unfounded.

“Due to the dynamic and evolving nature of the relevant U.S. regulations, we have required to exclude U.S. investors” from the global offering including the issuance in Hong Kong, the company said in a revised filing to the city’s stock exchange. The sanctions still don’t prevent a U.S. investor from buying or trading its class B shares, it said.

The AI startup said it will reopen orders for its Hong Kong offering on Monday for its first-time share sale. Trading is expected to start Dec. 30. The other cornerstone investors include Shanghai Guosheng Group, Shanghai AI Fund, SAIC Motor, Guotai Junan Investments, a venture fund under the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corp., C-Mer Group and Taizhou Culture & Tourism, the terms showed.

The company is still seeking to raise as much as $767 million from the listing, offering 1.5 billion shares at HK$3.85 to HK$3.99 apiece. SenseTime said in a statement last week that it would refund retail investors after failing to price its IPO on Dec. 10 as previously expected. It had aimed to start trading on Dec. 17.

China International Capital Corp., Haitong International Securities Group Ltd. and HSBC Holdings Plc are listed in the prospectus as joint sponsors. Guotai Junan Securities (Hong Kong) Ltd. and BOCOM International Securities Ltd. ceased to be joint bookrunners, joint lead managers and underwriters in the revised filing.

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