Softbank-backed SenseTime launches IPO in Hong Kong to raise up to $767m

SenseTime Co-Founder Xu Chiheng demonstrates surveillance software of his company on a laptop at the SenseTime office in Beijing, China, October 11, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo

Chinese artificial intelligence startup SenseTime Group is looking to raise up to $767 million in its Hong Kong initial public offering (IPO), according to a term sheet seen by Reuters.

The deal launched on Monday for the company to sell 1.5 billion primary shares within a price range of HK$3.85 to HK$3.99 each, the term sheet said.

Eight cornerstone investors have signed up for the IPO and subscribed for $450 million, or 58.6% of the deal, ahead of its launch, the term sheet showed.

SenseTime declined to comment on the deal’s launch.

SenseTime‘s shares are due to price on Friday and start trading on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on Dec. 17.

The company plans to use the majority of the IPO funds for research and development of its main AI technologies, the term sheet said.

SenseTime provides technology-based applications, including facial recognition, video analysing and autonomous driving.

It had planned to raise up to $2 billion in its Hong Kong IPO, Reuters reported previously, but scaled back the size of the deal before its launch.

SenseTime was among eight Chinese tech companies placed on a U.S. blacklist in 2019 amid trade tensions between Beijing and Washington.

The action bars the firms from buying components from U.S. companies without U.S. government approval.

The United States alleges the companies on the blacklist played a role in human rights abuses against Muslim minority groups in China.

SenseTime said at the time the ban was imposed it strongly opposed the U.S. trade restrictions and would work with relevant authorities to resolve the situation.

The IPO is going ahead despite the blacklist which has prohibited U.S investment banks working on the deal.

Unusually for a deal of its size in Hong Kong, there is no major U.S. bank working on the IPO, with HSBC Holdings PLC the only major Western bank with a role as a joint sponsor.

Reuters

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.

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

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  • 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. 
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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.