Tencent eyes mainland listing so users can buy shares

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 June, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 June, 2009, 12:00am

Tencent Holdings, a Hong Kong-listed Chinese internet service provider, is interested in listing its shares on the mainland, chairman Pony Ma said in an interview yesterday.

The company, which celebrates the fifth anniversary of its listing in Hong Kong today, hopes to provide a channel for its 411 million mainland users to buy its shares, although it has not set a timetable.

'Given that our company is based on the mainland, we want our users to be our shareholders,' Mr Ma said. 'We are waiting for the government [to issue] policies regarding listings by foreign companies.'

Mr Ma said it could be better for red chips, which refer to mainland firms registered overseas, to list on the mainland before other foreign companies. Tencent is registered in the Cayman Islands.

'Many investors have expressed interest in the company. Several big investors are able to invest in us, while others we can do nothing about,' said Mr Ma.

He said the company had no immediate plans to reduce the size of the board lot on the exchange. The company's shares trade in 200-share board lots, which requires a minimum trade size of HK$17,840, based on yesterday's closing price of HK$89.20.

The company was listed in Hong Kong in June 2004 at HK$3.70 per share.

Tencent, the country's largest instant message service provider by number of active users, has branched out to other internet value-added services, such as online games and social networking communities.

'China has about 300 million internet users, and it could reach 500 million in the near future,' said Mr Ma. 'It is very important for us to draw new users to drive growth.'

Mr Ma said '100 per cent' of new mainland internet users would register as users of Tencent's QQ messaging service as soon as they bought computers with internet access.

Tencent has also invested significantly in new products, such as e-mail and office document services, to meet demand.

Mr Ma said Tencent would launch several self-developed online game titles from the second half of the year, after the success of Dungeon and Fighter, a game it had licensed.