Xiaomi files in Hong Kong for world's biggest IPO since 2014

Chinese smartphone and connected device maker Xiaomi is bringing its blockbuster initial public offering to Hong Kong, which could raise about $10 billion in the largest listing globally in almost four years.
Xiaomi could be the biggest IPO since Alibaba's US$25 billion debut in 2014.
Xiaomi could be the biggest IPO since Alibaba's US$25 billion debut in 2014. PHOTO: REUTERS

HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG) - Xiaomi Corp. became the first major company to use Hong Kong's new rules for going public, filing for what's expected be the world's biggest debut since 2014.

The Chinese smartphone maker is taking advantage of changes in the former British colony that mean companies with different share classes can now list in the city. While the filing didn't say how much Xiaomi is looking to raise in the initial public offering, it's expected to be at least US$10 billion, people with knowledge of the matter have said, and could value the business as high as US$100 billion.

Xiaomi, reporting detailed financials for the first time, posted a net loss of 43.9 billion yuan (S$9.2 billion) in 2017, reversing from a profit a year earlier. Revenue however surged 67.5 per cent to 114.5 billion yuan last year.

It's a big win for Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing, whose officials spent years pushing to scrap a ban on weighted-voting rights, which give founders and executives control even with minority ownership. While some investors opposed the move, Xiaomi's decision, four years after Alibaba Group Holding chose New York, signals a new phase for the city in its ambitions to rival the US market.

Xiaomi could be the biggest IPO since Alibaba's US$25 billion debut in 2014. Though it suffered through a challenging 2016, the company bounced back by revamping its sales model and expanding in India, where it rivals Samsung Electronics as the biggest vendor.

The firm is also expected to issue Chinese depositary receipts after it goes public. Xiaomi has picked Citic Securities to handle its CDR issuance, people familiar with the matter said. While China's State Council has approved plans to introduce CDRs, timing and details are unclear.

Co-founder and chief executive officer Lei Jun said CDRs were "an excellent idea" in a recent interview, calling them "a great policy innovation."

Under Lei, Xiaomi is looking to enter developed markets for smartphones as it consolidates its position in emerging markets. It entered Spain last year and is also said to be talking to US carriers to sell devices on Apple Inc's home turf.

Apart from smartphones, Xiaomi has backed dozens of startups producing a wide spectrum of products from wearables to rice cookers. Total sales from its ecosystem doubled to 20 billion yuan in 2017.