Picture: AFP/DREW ANGERER
Picture: AFP/DREW ANGERER

Hong Kong — For Chinese companies seeking a US listing, 2019 has been a horrible year. With only two weeks left, it’s about to get worse.

Cloud fintech platform OneConnect Financial Technology, owned by Ping An Insurance and backed by Softbank, almost halved its planned US initial public offering (IPO) size, meaning the company is now likely to go public at a valuation that is less than half the Japanese tech investment giant paid in 2018.

OneConnect had planned to raise as much as $504m at a valuation of about $4.4bn to $5.2bn. Its new price range and offer size imply a market capitalisation of $3bn to $3.3bn before the IPO, according to Bloomberg calculations, less than half the $7.5bn the company was valued at when Softbank invested in 2018.

Meanwhile Ucommune, the largest rival to WeWork in China, lost three banks that had been working on the deal — Credit Suisse, Citigroup and Bank of America — according to people familiar with the matter. All three banks declined to comment. An e-mail to Ucommune seeking comment went unanswered.

In a year marked by several high-profile IPO flops (see WeWork), investors have become more sceptical of valuations and have focused on profitable firms or those that have a clear path to profitability. This often means that larger, more familiar companies get more investor interest, bankers say. Chinese IPOs in the US are typically smaller deals.

Ucommune filed overnight for a US IPO and the banks’ names aren’t in the filing. Credit Suisse dropped off a number of US IPOs this year, including those of bitcoin mining equipment maker Canaan and drone maker EHang Holdings.

One of the reasons behind the lower amount of funds raised via US listings by Chinese companies is the poor performance of those offerings, which has affected investor sentiment and forced many to cut the amount they seek to raise.

The 30 Chinese firms that raised $3.25bn in total in US IPOs in 2019 have dropped by an average 25% from their offer prices, data compiled by Bloomberg shows. Just six of them are trading above their IPO prices. In contrast, in the same period in 2018, Chinese companies raised about $9bn in US IPOs and fell by an average 11% in their first year of trading.

Bloomberg