China's 'Twitter' Sina Weibo to file $500M IPO

Sina Weibo, a Twitter-like service, has 60.2 million users daily but could see a drop in users after China cracked down on the spread of rumors online.
By Ananth Baliga  |  Feb. 24, 2014 at 12:58 PM
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NEW YORK, Feb. 24 (UPI) -- Sina Corp is looking to raise $500 million in an initial public offering for its Twitter-like service Sina Weibo, said people with direct knowledge of the deal.

The company has hired Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs to manage the listing and the IPO is expected in the second half of this year. Sina Weibo sold an 18 percent stake to Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd, China's largest e-commerce company, last April for $586 million. Alibaba itself, of which Yahoo! owns a 24 percent stake, is planning on going public in 2014, and will most probably raise its stake to 30 percent in Sina after the latter goes public.

Weibo came close to breaking even in its third quarter last year, on the back of strong advertising revenues that doubled from a year earlier. The company has been facing increasing competition from Tencent Holdings' WeChat messaging application.

Sina Weibo is the most popular microblogging service in China and with 60.2 million daily active users by the end of September. Sina Chief Executive Officer Charles Chao had indicated last September that the company was looking into listing their business.

The number of microblog users in China fell for the first time last year after the government made it a jailable offense to spread false rumors online. According to the China Internet Network Information Center, total users dropped nine percent to 281 million at the end of 2013.

[Bloomberg] [CNBC] [MarketWatch]

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