Tencent-backed Weimob files for Hong Kong IPO as marketing solutions provider joins rush to go public

WeChat-based marketing services provider joins a wave of Chinese technology companies seeking public offerings in Hong Kong in the next 12 months

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 August, 2018, 11:54am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 07 August, 2018, 11:13pm

Tencent Holdings-backed marketing and cloud services provider Weimob has filed an application for an initial public offering (IPO) in Hong Kong, joining a wave of technology companies looking to go public in the city in the near future.

Shanghai-based Weimob offers cloud services and integrated marketing solutions to small-to-medium sized enterprises (SMEs) via the social media platform WeChat. Weimob was one of the first service providers on WeChat Official Accounts in 2013 and is also one of the first enterprises to sell marketing solutions through the WeChat Mini program interface – which allows users to run programs directly within the WeChat application – according to its IPO prospectus filed on Monday.

Tencent’s social media network WeChat is the largest in China and currently has a user base of more than one billion.

A large number of Chinese technology unicorns are likely to launch IPOs in Hong Kong in the next 12 to 24 months, significantly boosting capital market liquidity and driven by strong appetite for high-growth and new economy companies from Hong Kong investors. Recent IPOs, however, have encountered some headwinds, with the world’s fourth-largest smartphone maker Xiaomi having to slash its valuation to US$54 billion, just more than half the US$100 billion that was originally sought.

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Weimob launched its first "software as a service" (SaaS) products in 2013 and aims to help small business operators – who are used to traditional retail sales methods – adapt to the new e-commerce and social media environment. The five-year old company had around 2.6 million merchants for its SaaS products as of March 2018 and its revenue increased to 534 million yuan (US$78 million) in 2017 from 189.2 million in 2016, according to the IPO filing.

Hong Kong-listed internet giant Tencent currently has a 3.4 per cent stake in Weimob. In recent years, Tencent has made a string of investments in various technology start-ups and sectors, including live-streaming, e-commerce, medical services, artificial intelligence, and short-video providers. Chinese live-streaming platform Douyu TV and short-video operator Kuaishou, both backed by Tencent, are also considering listings in Hong Kong.