HONG KONG: Video streaming site Bilibili sank on its first day trading on Hong Kong’s stock exchange yesterday as investors fret over a global sell-off in Chinese tech shares. Bilibili’s opening price fell just over 6 percent in early trade after the firm raised around $2.6 billion in a secondary listing on Hong Kong’s bourse. Over the past 18 months Hong Kong has seen a flurry of Chinese tech firms hold initial public offerings in the city, part of a drive to list closer to home as relations between Beijing and Washington sour.
Last year Hong Kong raked in an impressive $49 billion in IPOs with hugely popular second listings by the likes of JD.com and NetEase. The Chinese tech homecomings have continued into 2021 but with less investor enthusiasm. A Hong Kong debut by Chinese search engine Baidu last week raised $3.1 billion through its IPO but its shares finished flat on the opening day and have since sunk some 15 percent.
US-China tensions remain at the forefront of investor jitters. Last week American regulators announced plans to force Chinese firms to adhere more strictly to its auditing rules, sparking concerns over potential delistings in the US and a global sell-off in Chinese tech shares. Bilibili is already listed in New York. It is a fast growing video streaming site with around 200 million mostly young Chinese users. Often dubbed “China’s YouTube”, it allows users to upload and share videos with voiceovers and music added and hosts a significant amount of user generated content.
Founded in 2009 by a then 20-year-old college student Xu Yi, it began primarily as a place for fans of gaming and anime to gather and share content but has since spread among Gen Z Chinese users. Bilibili chief executive Chen Rui played down short term market price drops, billing his company as a website primed to tap into China’s nearly one billion internet users. “We wouldn’t care too much about short-term performance in the stock market,” the 43-year-old billionaire told Bloomberg Television in what the network said was his first interview with international media. “Nobody will remember whether your stock went up or down on the debut in 10 years’ time.”
Chen has been seen as the real driver of Bilibili’s success in recent years, persuading Chinese tech rivals Tencent and Alibaba to come on board as early investors as well as Sony. Videos “will be a major trend for the internet industry over the next three to five years,” Chen told Bloomberg. “The market will be in ultra-high-speed growth for the next several years. Popular video platforms, like us, will all have great opportunities.” – AFP