Fintech firm WeLab is in discussions for an IPO in either Hong Kong or the U.S. that is expected to happen by the end of the year.
The IPO could value the Hong Kong-based company between $1.5 billion and $2 billion, according to a report today from Nikkei Asia, citing multiple people familiar with the situation. However, the news outlet cautioned that the deal is subject to “market conditions.” In fact, WeLab was forced to halt its $500 million Hong Kong share sale in 2018 over market volatility.
“We are always considering different strategic options and closely monitoring the capital markets,” a spokesperson for WeLab told Nikkei Asia. “We can be opportunistic and consider a listing if the market conditions are favorable, and if it makes strategic sense for the company."
In late March Chinese fintech platform Bairong Inc. (HKEX: 06608), plunged 16% in its Hong Kong debut. According to Bloomberg, Bairong’s first day of trading was the worst among Hong Kong IPOs that have fetched more than $500 million since 2018. Meanwhile, Linklogis Inc. HKEX: (09959), another Chinese fintech company, went public in Hong Kong this month and watched its shares jump 14%.
A year before it pursued the Hong Kong IPO, WeLab was valued at more than $1 billion. In December 2019, WeLab announced it raised $156 million in a funding round. Some investors included in the Series C round were Alibaba Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund and China Construction Bank (International).
Also, WeLab fetched $75 million in March from a group of investors headed by Allianz X. Since its establishment in 2013, WeLab has raised more than $600 million in capital.
Backed by billionaire Li Ka-shing, WeLab offers financial services in online banking and consumer finance for not only retail customers but for more than 600 businesses as well.
WeLab counted 50 million customers in mainland China, Indonesia, and the Hong Kong markets at the end of 2020. That figure jumped by 20% from the previous year.
WeLab intends to use the proceeds from the possible share sale to expand by looking for new market opportunities in Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines.