Chinese travel site aims to raise up to $412m: Sources

Mafengwo, or "wasps' nest" in Chinese, is an online community for Chinese tourists where they share travel tips and shop for bespoke travel products.
Mafengwo, or "wasps' nest" in Chinese, is an online community for Chinese tourists where they share travel tips and shop for bespoke travel products. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM MAFENGWO WEBSITE

Temasek-backed firm to use funds to acquire better tourism resources, monetise content

HONG KONG • A Chinese travel website backed by Singapore investment company Temasek Holdings hopes to raise up to US$300 million (S$412 million) in a new funding round that it hopes will value the firm at US$2 billion to US$2.5 billion, two people with knowledge of the matter said.

Mafengwo, or "wasps' nest" in Chinese, is an online community for Chinese tourists where they share travel tips and shop for bespoke travel products. The firm hopes to use the fresh funds to acquire better tourism resources and products and better monetise its current travel content, one of the sources, who could not be identified because the information is confidential, told Reuters yesterday.

The fund-raising amount and the firm's valuation could change depending on market appetite, according to the two sources. Mafengwo has been in talks with potential investors for at least a couple of months, they said.

The firm raised US$133 million last December in its series D fund-raising round from new investors, including US private equity fund General Atlantic, travel-sector investment firm Ocean Link, Temasek, Yuantai Investment and Hopu Investments, as well as existing investors - Capital Today, Qiming Venture and Hillhouse Capital Group.

Mafengwo and a number of customised travel service providers in China are gaining popularity as Chinese people spend more on domestic and international travel.

The China National Tourism Administration reported 4.57 trillion yuan (S$911.8 billion) in domestic tourism revenues for last year, up 16 per cent from 2016. China's international travel revenues amounted to US$123.4 billion, up 3 per cent from 2016.

More individual tourists used mobile-phone apps to book hotels or purchase travel products in the past year, according to the administration's statistics.

 
  • 85%

    Percentage of Mafengwo's 100 million active monthly users who access the site from its mobile app.

Mafengwo said at its previous fund raising that it had 100 million active monthly users, 85 per cent of who came from its mobile app.

The website had more than 135,000 travel articles posted by users every month and expected its 2017 sales from individual travel products to exceed 9 billion yuan.

Users can book transportation and tours, order visa application services and buy travel insurance from Mafengwo. The website also pays some users to write travel blogs.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 18, 2018, with the headline 'Chinese travel site aims to raise up to $412m: Sources'. Print Edition | Subscribe