Chinese AI chip provider Cambricon seeks $400m in STAR Market IPO

Photo by Alexandre Debiève on Unsplash

Chinese AI chip unicorn Cambricon Technologies aims to raise up to 2.8 billion yuan ($400 million) in an initial public offering (IPO) on the STAR Market, according to a filing seen by Chinese media.

The $2.5-billion company, which used to be a major supplier of Huawei’s AI smartphone chips, would become the first AI chip provider to list on the Nasdaq-style market if the listing pushes through.

Cambricon will join 91 other companies listed on the Nasdaq-style market with a combined market capitalisation of nearly 1.44 trillion yuan ($207 billion) as of March 3.

The company, which focuses on the development of computer chips tailored for AI applications, was created in March 2016 by Chen Yunji and Chen Tianshi, two Chinese brothers working in a research lab at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).

It is one of the most valuable AI chipmakers in China but was blacklisted by the US government in October 2019, along with facial recognition giants SenseTime, Megvii, and Yitu, which banned it from purchasing components from US-based companies.

Chinese media reports said Cambricon will use the proceeds of its IPO to expand its cloud-based algorithm training and interference, further develop its edge computing, and boost the company’s cash flow.

The company was valued at $2.5 billion after it closed hundreds of millions of US dollars in a Series B round of financing in June 2018. Its investors include Lenovo, China International Capital Corporation (CICC), TCL Capital, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Alibaba, through its venture capital arm, owns 2.08 per cent of Cambricon, according to the prospectus. iFlytek, a Chinese state-backed voice recognition giant, also revealed in March a 1.19 per cent stake in Cambricon.

Its filing showed that operating income in 2019 hit 443.94 million yuan ($2.76 million), up 279.35 per cent from the previous year.

Last month, Chinese cybersecurity major Qi An Xin Group filed a prospectus with the STAR Market to move towards an IPO for 4.5 billion yuan ($634 million). Qi An Xin’s listing plan comes after the company raised 1.5 billion yuan in a pre-IPO round at a valuation of 23 billion yuan ($3.22 billion).

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.