SouFun aims for US$500m from IPO
Sherman So and Tim LeeMaster
SouFun Holding, the mainland's leading property website, plans to raise about US$500 million from an initial public offering next year, according to market sources.
Hong Kong or New York would be the likely listing market, said the sources. A spokesman for the Beijing company would not comment.
Last month, Telstra Corp chief executive Sol Trujillo said the Australian telecommunications company planned to spin off the 51 per cent-owned subsidiary for an independent listing next year. Telstra bought SouFun's controlling stake for US$254 million last year, eyeing its high growth potential.
The mainland's online advertising market reached 4.62 billion yuan last year, up 42.9 per cent from 3.23 billion yuan in 2005, according to researcher Analysys. It forecast the market would reach 1.56 billion yuan by the end of 2010, for a compound annual growth of 26.2 per cent.
SouFun is the mainland's most popular property website. It ranks among the country's top 10 websites with more than 44 million users every month. Aside from property, it has sections for home furnishings and improvements. The company has offices in about 60 mainland cities. It plans to expand to 75 cities by the end of the year.
'It competes with major portals such as Sohu and Sina for advertising dollars in the real-estate sector,' said Jacky Huang, a senior analyst at IDC.
SouFun chief executive Vincent Mok and his partner Li Shan founded the company in 1999 with funding from mainland venture capital firm IDG and Goldman Sachs.
In 2005, the company received another round of funding, about 200 million yuan, from French classified advertising company Trader Classified Media, according to mainland press.
After Telstra's acquisition, Mr Mok retained a 30.9 per cent share while IDG held 14.7 per cent. The remainder is held by management.
SouFun was cash-flow-positive from day one. Telstra had said it expected SouFun to contribute net revenue and ebitda of A$52 million (HK$348.9 million) and A$18 million, respectively, this year.