No timeframe for listing on mainland, says Xiaomi

Xiaomi is the latest high-profile company to lavish large stock awards on its senior executives ahead of a stock market flotation in recent years.
Xiaomi is the latest high-profile company to lavish large stock awards on its senior executives ahead of a stock market flotation in recent years. PHOTO: REUTERS

HONG KONG • Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp said last Saturday that there is no timeframe for a mainland share offering, casting doubt on Beijing's efforts to lure foreign-listed Chinese tech giants back home.

Xiaomi had been expected to raise up to US$10 billion (S$13.6 billion), split between its Hong Kong and mainland offerings. But in a surprise move last week, it postponed its mainland share offering until after it completes its scheduled July 9 listing in Hong Kong.

It did not say when it would restart its China depositary receipt (CDR) issuance process or why it was postponing the mainland offering.

Sources told Reuters the decision was mainly because of a dispute between the company and Chinese regulators over the valuation of its CDRs, but the company denied this.

"We've had many rounds of discussions with the regulators and reached a consensus that to ensure the quality of our CDR issuance, it's better that we go public in Hong Kong first," Xiaomi's chief financial officer Shou Zi Chew told a news conference in Hong Kong.

Xiaomi, which also makes Internet-connected devices, awarded its chief executive officer and co-founder Lei Jun about US$1.5 billion worth of shares for his contribution to the company, it said in an updated regulatory filing last week, in one of the largest one-off share-based corporate bonuses in years.

The US$1.5 billion stock, which has been awarded to Mr Lei's holding entity - Smart Mobile Holdings - was recorded by Xiaomi as share-based compensation expenses on April 2, one month before it filed for its blockbuster Hong Kong initial public offering (IPO).

Xiaomi is the latest high-profile company to lavish large stock awards on its senior executives ahead of a stock market flotation in recent years.

Its co-founder and president, Mr Lin Bin, defended the board's decision on the compensation. "Many new-economy companies have compensated their chairmen or CEOs with stocks ahead of the IPOs. Xiaomi isn't the first and won't be the last to do so," he said at the news conference.

Mr Lin added that Xiaomi's board unanimously agreed on the stock award to Mr Lei, who "completely knew nothing about it".

Chinese e-commerce powerhouse JD.com awarded CEO Richard Liu stocks worth nearly US$900 million at the company's IPO price, ahead of its New York listing in 2014.

Xiaomi has lined up US$548 million from seven cornerstone investors, including US chipmaker Qualcomm, for its Hong Kong IPO, Reuters reported last Thursday.

The offering is set to be the first listing under new exchange rules designed to attract tech floats, as competition heats up between Hong Kong, New York and the Chinese mainland.

Xiaomi is selling about 2.18 billion shares at a price range of HK$17 to HK$22 each, representing a multiple of 22.7 to 29.3 times 2019 earnings forecast by its underwriting syndicate.

The IPO values the Beijing-based, Cayman-domiciled company at US$54.3 billion - US$70.3 billion after a 15 per cent "greenshoe"or over-allotment option which can be sold if there is demand. If the greenshoe is exercised, Xiaomi's free float will be 9.99 per cent of its enlarged share capital.

The new valuation range is far below the US$100 billion touted by sources this year and below the more recent US$70 billion plus valuation target that some analysts and investors see as aggressive.

Mr Lei said he expected to expand the company's product range and international market presence. Xiaomi's phones are sold in 74 countries. "I agree the smartphone market in the next 10 years will grow slowly. But still, it is a giant market," he said.

Set up in 2010, the company doubled its smartphone shipments last year to become the world's fourth-largest maker, according to Counterpoint Research, defying a global slowdown in smartphone sales.

Xiaomi also makes dozens of Internet-connected home appliances and gadgets, including scooters, air purifiers and rice cookers.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 25, 2018, with the headline 'No timeframe for listing on mainland, says Xiaomi'. Print Edition | Subscribe