Xiaomi faces a reality check in its closely watched IPO

Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi is ready to put its business to the verdict of investors with an IPO in Hong Kong, but a disappointing pricing and a listing delay in mainland China are casting a cloud over its debut.

Xiaomi, established only in 2010, is now the world’s fourth-largest smartphone manufacturer by producing low-priced devices that have drawn comparisons — favorable and accusatory — to the iPhone.

But Beijing-based Xiaomi now faces a reality check after the relative low pricing of its Hong Kong initial public offering and the delay of its plan to become the first company to offer China Depository Receipts.

China came up with the idea for CDRs as a vehicle to entice the country’s technology giants — many having listed overseas — to offer a form of equity in the domestic stock markets, allowing local investors to get involved in the sector’s growth. The concept is broadly similar to that of American depository receipts, which allow for U.S. markets to trade assets representing shares in foreign firms. CDRs are seen as important in part because they offer Chinese companies the chance to raise even more funds by tapping the domestic market.

The IPO was priced on Friday at 17 Hong Kong dollars ($2.17) per share, with Xiaomi raising $4.7 billion. It had earlier set a range of HK$17 to HK$22 for the approximately 2.18 billion shares on offer.

That transaction gives the company a reported valuation of about $54 billion, well below the initially hoped for $100 billion. Trading starts in Hong Kong on Monday.

Analysts cite a range of factors for the relatively weak pricing, such as the Chinese CDR delay and recent negative investor sentiment toward global equities, including recent stock market downturns in China and Hong Kong, amid trade war fears between the United States and China.

Some, however, say the market concluded that Xiaomi has been overhyped.

“Honestly, Xiaomi is not an internet company,” said Dickie Wong, executive director for research at Kingston Financial in Hong Kong. “It’s just a hardware company,” he said. “That’s the problem.”

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