Ctrip.Com International Ltd, Asia’s biggest online travel firm, would welcome the chance to list at home in mainland China should regulators introduce depositary receipts as planned, Chief Executive Jane Sun told Reuters on Friday.
The firm first floated shares on the NASDAQ market in the United States 15 years ago as part of a wave of Chinese tech companies lured by high valuations overseas, at a time when domestic markets were a fraction of their current size.
The government has been trying to coax such firms home to give Chinese investors access to the fast-growing titans that have traditionally opted to list overseas or in Hong Kong.
To that end, China’s securities regulator is likely to finalise guidelines later this year for China depositary receipts (CDRs), Reuters reported last month. CDRs would be similar to American depositary receipts which, while not technically shares, are certificates that allow investors to hold shares listed elsewhere.
“(On) CDRs, we are very open to that because our customers, if they have an opportunity to become our shareholder, it’s going to be a win-win for both our customers as well as Ctrip,” Sun said in an interview.
“We are open and welcome the opportunity if there is (one).”
She declined to say when such an offering might take place as CDR guidelines had yet to be finalised.
Chinese e-commerce firm Alibaba Group Holding Ltd is planning CDR listing for as early as mid-year, Thomson Reuters publication IFR reported last month, citing a person with knowledge of the matter.
CHINA TRAVEL BOOM
Riding a wave of Chinese tourism, the Shanghai-based company has been investing overseas though Sun said the focus for now would be organic growth, especially targeting Chinese travellers whose numbers are soaring along with rising incomes.
On Friday, Ctrip announced a tie-up with French hotel group Accor SA to boost offerings to their joint clientele. In November, Ctrip acquired Skyscanner for $1.7 billion and picked up website Trip.com, which it relaunched as the offshore version of Ctrip.com.
Sun said the company’s investment focus was threefold: technology, enhancing customer service, and product development.
She said Ctrip’s strongest product was international air tickets. “We are moving very quickly not only in Asia, but also in Russia, Australia, New Zealand and Europe.”
Sun said Ctrip had not seen much impact on business from trade friction between China and the United States, a popular travel destination for Chinese tourists.
“From a commercial perspective, it’s always good to have a globalised market and globalised strategy,” she said.