Chinese display maker Royole is said to have filed for confidential US IPO

Traffic move down the third ring road in Beijing, China, on Monday 15 May, 2017. Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

Chinese flexible display maker Royole Corp. has filed confidentially for a U.S. initial public offering to raise about $1 billion, people familiar with the matter said.

The startup seeks funding to expand its sales and marketing and research facilities, the people said, requesting not to be named because the matter is private. It had originally planned to raise that amount via a private financing round at a valuation of about $8 billion, people familiar with that deal said in March. But the Chinese company is now tapping U.S. markets after liquidity tightened during a downturn in China’s venture capital sector, the people said.

Royole, known for manufacturing the world’s first commercial foldable phone, competes with Samsung Electronics Co. and BOE Technology Group Co. to produce bendable screens using cutting-edge organic light-emitting diode technology. The company, which gave away wraparound-screen hats at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, this month unveiled a smart speaker that packs a bendable display around a cylinder.

It’s unclear what timeframe the company’s looking at, the people said. A Royole representative declined to comment.

Royole is regarded as one of a coterie of Chinese technology startups working to dismantle the decades-old image of China as a clone factory by leading in design and innovation. Like Huami and Insta360, these upstarts aim to take advantage of home bases in China close to where devices are manufactured, developing products faster and more cheaply.

Founded by Stanford alumni Bill Liu, Peng Wei and Xiaojun Yu, Royole needs capital to plow back into research and expand production. The company, valued at about $5 billion in a previous funding round, invested 11 billion yuan ($1.6 billion) into a flexible display plant in Shenzhen that commenced production in June. Royole is working with Airbus to install displays in planes and also collaborates with clothing, furniture and kitchen-supply customers. Royole has said it secured a deal with Louis Vuitton that will see the two companies putting flexible screens on handbags of the future.

Its full line of products encompasses head-mounted displays intended for use as so-called mobile theaters and other wearable flexible displays. The company even has a smart writing pad that it sells on Amazon.com, JD.com and in stores across China, the U.S. and Europe.

Royole’s earlier investors include Knight Capital, IDG Capital, Poly Capital Management, AMTD Group, the funds of Chinese tycoon Xie Zhikun and the venture capital arm of the Shenzhen city government.

Bloomberg

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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.