Shares in TikTok rival Kuaishou almost triple on Hong Kong debut

Shares in Kuaishou nearly tripled on their first day of trading in Hong Kong, propelling the valuation of the Chinese streaming video platform to within touching distance of ByteDance, the owner of its chief rival TikTok.

The company’s stock opened 194 per cent higher in early trading on Friday at HK$338 (US$43.60), up from the initial public offering price of HK$115.

Kuaishou, which raised about $5.4bn in the biggest tech IPO since Uber, competes in China with ByteDance, the owner of TikTok and its Chinese sister app Douyin. ByteDance is also considering a listing this year for some of its businesses, according to two people directly familiar with the matter.

The pop in Kuaishou’s stock on Friday brought its market capitalisation to almost $180bn. ByteDance was valued at $180bn at its most recent December fundraising round, according to a person directly familiar with the matter.

“For a sizeable IPO like this one I can’t recall any . . . reaching this sort of extraordinary performance” on day one, said Ronald Wan, chief executive and founder of Hong Kong investment firm Partners Capital. “The valuation [of Kuaishou] was really high already at the IPO price, but the sky’s the limit,” he added.

The first day jump boosted the value of Kuaishou chief executive Su Hua’s stake in the group to more than $21bn. The stake held by Cheng Yixiao, the company’s founder and chief of product, is also worth nearly $17bn.

The rise in Kuaishou’s stock valued the 730m shares held by Chinese technology group Tencent at almost $32bn.

Cheng founded Kuaishou about a decade ago as a tool for users to create GIFs — short animated images — on smartphones. The company pivoted toward short videos as smartphone cameras and data networks became faster and more powerful.

More than 262m Chinese users check the Kuaishou app an average of 10 times per day, spending an average of 86 minutes watching videos and chatting with the creators who make them.

These interactions produce the app’s main revenue stream, as Kuaishou takes a cut of the tips viewers shower on content creators. These include small virtual gifts such as stickers, ranging from ones depicting beer for Rmb1.5 (US$0.23) each to ones of golden dragons that cost Rmb1,400. Such tips contributed 62 per cent of Kuaishou’s revenue in the nine months to September 30 last year.

Total revenue in the period rose 49 per cent from a year earlier to Rmb41bn.

Kuaishou’s buoyant debut comes despite Chinese tech companies facing an increasingly uncertain regulatory environment. The $37bn dual listing in Hong Kong and Shanghai of payments firm Ant Group was halted by Beijing at the last minute in November, while its ecommerce affiliate Alibaba is under an antitrust investigation.

Livestreaming rules announced in November banned teenagers from purchasing virtual gifts on platforms such as Kuaishou and limit total spending by any single user. The regulations also tightened controls on livestreaming ecommerce, where video hosts promote goods to shoppers, a growing business for Kuaishou.

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