Owner of Garena gaming platform seeks up to $950m from IPO

South-east Asia's most valuable start-up Sea - known for its Garena gaming and shopping platform - aims to raise as much as US$696 million (S$949.6 million) in its United States initial public offering (IPO).

The Singapore-based company, formerly called Garena, is marketing 49.7 million American depositary shares for US$12 to US$14 apiece, according to a regulatory filing last Friday.

Sea was founded by Chinese-born entrepreneur Forrest Li, now a Singapore citizen, as an online gaming company in 2009. It has since branched out to add mobile shopping and payment services in South-east Asia.

The firm was valued at about US$3.75 billion when it raised US$170 million in a fundraising round in March 2016. In May, Sea secured an additional US$550 million in funding.

Chinese technology giant Tencent Holdings, with a 40 per cent share, owns the biggest private stake in Sea, according to the company's initial filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Mr Li, who serves as chairman and chief executive officer, is the next biggest holder at 20 per cent.

The company posted a net loss of US$225 million on revenue of US$345.7 million last year, according to the filing. In 2015, Sea saw a net loss of US$107.3 million on revenue of US$292.1 million.

Sea plans to use the proceeds of the IPO to grow its business by adding customers and acquiring content.

Goldman Sachs Group, Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse Group are leading the offering, according to the filing. The company has applied to list on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol SE.

Mr Li previously worked at Viacom and Corning, and served between January 2016 and February 2017 as a member of Singapore's Committee on the Future Economy to develop the country's future economic strategies, according to the filing.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 10, 2017, with the headline 'Owner of Garena gaming platform seeks up to $950m from IPO'. Print Edition | Subscribe