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Baidu to raise $3b in secondary HK listing

By Ouyang Shijia | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2021-03-18 16:58

An employee comes out of the Baidu headquarters in Beijing. [Photo by Fan Jiashan/For China Daily]

Internet giant Baidu said it will raise around HK$23.94 billion ($3.08 billion) in its upcoming secondary listing in Hong Kong at HK$252 per share.

The news sent its shares up 3.88 percent on Wednesday on the Nasdaq, closing at $277.13.

Positioning itself as a leading AI company with a strong internet foundation, the company will use the net proceeds for continued investment in technology, enhancing commercialization of its innovations centered around AI, growing the Baidu Mobile Ecosystem, enhancing and diversifying monetization and general corporate purposes, Baidu said in an announcement published on Wednesday on the website of the Hong Kong bourse.

According to the announcement, shares will begin trading on March 23, under the stock code "9888".

According to the Post Hearing Information pack published on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange website last week, Baidu's chairman and chief executive officer Robin Li Yanhong holds approximately 57 percent of voting rights in the company.

Baidu said it has been investing in AI since 2010 to improve search and ad monetization, and has used its core AI technology engine Baidu Brain to develop new AI businesses.

The document said Baidu held the largest portfolio of AI patents and AI patent applications in China as of Oct 30, 2020. And its Baidu Open AI Platform, with a developer community of over 2.65 million members, is the largest open AI platform in China, based on the number of developers as of Dec 31, 2020.

Analysts said Chinese enterprises are seeking a more local presence against the backdrop of mounting uncertainties in the US market, and Baidu is the latest to join a wave of US-listed Chinese companies seeking secondary listing deals this year.

Chinese internet titans Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent are known by the acronym BAT. However, in recent years, Baidu has seemed to lag behind its two other peer rivals in terms of market valuation and growth momentum, said Chen Duan, executive director of the Zhongjing Digital Economy Research Center. He added he believes this secondary listing will help Baidu back into the spotlight and be the center of the capital market.

Looking ahead, an influx of secondary listings by Chinese mainland-based tech groups will inject new impetus and provide more liquidity into Hong Kong's capital market, said Wang Chikun, an independent economist.

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