China's TechCrunch-like Website Files to Go Public, Shrugging U.S.-China Trade War Volatility

The filing came amid market rumours that the U.S. was considering delisting Chinese firms from U.S. stock exchanges.
China's TechCrunch-like Website Files to Go Public, Shrugging U.S.-China Trade War Volatility
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Deputy Associate Editor, Asia Pacific
3 min read

36Kr Holdings Inc, a Chinese website that tracks China's startup ecosystem, on Monday filed to trade as a public company on the Nasdaq stock exchange, on the heels of media reports that President Donald Trump was considering a mass delisting of Chinese firms that trade on U.S. stock exchanges.

The delistings would mainly be a way for Trump to stop the flow of money from the U.S., into China, media reports said. The news comes ahead of scheduled talks between Washington and Beijing next week.

The move could affect 156 Chinese companies that, as of February, were listed on U.S. exchanges, including giants such as Alibaba, JD.com, and Baidu. However, the reports were disputed after the U.S. treasury said there were "no immediate plans to block Chinese listings at this time."

But uncertainties arising from the trade war have continued to batter Chinese firms in the U.S.

"There have been concerns on the relationship between China and the U.S. following rounds of tariffs imposed by the U.S. and retaliatory tariffs imposed by China. It is unclear whether these challenges and uncertainties will be contained or resolved, and what effects they may have on the global political and economic conditions in the long term.," said 36Kr, whose backers include Alibaba's Ant Financial, Nikkei, which owns the Financial Times, and Tembusu, a Singapore-based private equity firm.

"Any prolonged slowdown in the global or Chinese economy may have a negative impact on our business, results of operations and financial condition, and continued turbulence in the international markets may adversely affect our ability to access the capital markets to meet liquidity needs," the company said.

It set a placeholder amount of $100 million to indicate the size of the offering, although that could change.

The company primarily creates content on "new economy" participants in China, which basically refers to the startup sector. It tracks Chinese startups, funding rounds, and uses the traffic it garners on its website to offer services such as advertising, subscription services, developing marketing for businesses, organising events, and providing consulting services.

But 36Kr has been bleeding money - it reported a loss of $6.6 million in the first six months of 2019, on revenue of $29.4 million, joining a cohort of loss-making companies that have gone public this year. The IPO would be a way for the company to raise funding from the public markets, especially considering it has had negative cash outflows historically.


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