- Also considers listing non-China business in Europe or US – source
- In talks with HKEX, China regulators for China business IPO -sources
- Had previously eyed global listing in US or HK -sources
- Plans considered amid growing US-China tensions -sources
- Talks as some ByteDance investors look separately to take over TikTok
BEIJING/HONG KONG: Chinese tech giant ByteDance is considering listing its domestic business in Hong Kong or Shanghai, people familiar with the matter told Reuters, against a backdrop of rising Sino-US tensions over its hit non-China video app TikTok.
Of the two venues, the company prefers Hong Kong, according to two of the people. One of the two also said ByteDance is simultaneously studying the option to list its smaller, non-China business – which includes TikTok that is not available in China – in Europe or the United States.
The eight-year-old Beijing-based tech and media company had originally wanted to list as a combined entity, including TikTok and other operations, in New York or Hong Kong in a blockbuster deal. TikTok allows smartphone users to film and upload short videos with special effects within seconds.
But ByteDance has been in talks with bourse operator Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEX) over the China business listing, one of the people said. The company was also discussing it with Chinese securities regulators, according to the other two people.
Reuters previously reported China accounts for the bulk of ByteDance revenue, which one source said was around $16 billion in 2019.
A standalone listing could value the China business at more than $100 billion in Hong Kong or on Shanghai’s Nasdaq-style STAR Market, according to two sources.
The review of separate plans for the China business comes amid growing concerns over US regulatory scrutiny and uncertainty over whether a 2013 audit deal between Beijing and Washington, that underpins Chinese firms listing in the United States, will remain intact.
The people interviewed by Reuters said the idea of splitting the whole business into two public listings and the venue discussions are preliminary and subject to change. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the information was private.
Plans may also be complicated by some heavyweight ByteDance investors looking to take over TikTok at a valuation of $50 billion. TikTok faces pressure from U.S. regulators who have spoken about banning the app, or requiring ByteDance to sell it, over suspicions Beijing could force its owner to turn over data on U.S. users.
ByteDance declined to comment. HKEX said it doesn’t comment on individual companies. The China Securities Regulatory Commission didn’t respond to a request to comment.
BYTEDANCE VALUED AT UP TO $140 BLN
The discussions about the two listings were initiated before the investor plans for a separate TikTok buyout emerged, according to one source, but after the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States