Weibo Jumps in U.S. Debut After IPO Prices Low End of Range

Apr 17, 2014 4:34 pm ET

(Updates with closing share prices.)

April 17 (Bloomberg) -- Weibo Corp., the Chinese microblogging service owned by Sina Corp., surged 19 percent in its first day of trading after pricing its initial public offering at the low end of the marketed range.

The shares climbed $3.24 to $21.24 as in New York, after they were priced at $17 each. Weibo, which also counts Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. among its backers, raised $285.6 million in the IPO, after offering the shares for $17 to $19 apiece.

Weibo’s IPO was set against the backdrop of tumbling stocks. Since the company publicly filed for its IPO on March 14, U.S. peer Twitter Inc. dropped more than 14 percent through yesterday amid a broad decline in technology stocks while Sina fell 18 percent. Weibo joins seven other Chinese Internet companies that have filed to raise a total of $2.8 billion in New York this year.

“Investors have a lot of concerns about Weibo, especially now that it is facing a competitive landscape,” said You Na, a senior research analyst at ICBC International Research Ltd. in Hong Kong. “The market is also in a relative weak state.”

The tally of U.S. offerings by Chinese companies this year doesn’t include Alibaba, which is preparing to go public and which analysts estimate could be the biggest IPO in the U.S. in at least two years.

Leju Pricing

Leju Holdings Ltd., a Chinese operator of real estate websites, raised $100 million on the New York Stock Exchange selling shares at the low end of a marketed range. Leju said in a statement that it sold 10 million American depositary shares at $10 each. The shares rose 19 percent to $11.86.

Sina rose 6.7 percent in U.S. trading today while Twitter gained 1.3 percent.

Alibaba agreed a year ago to buy a 19 percent stake in Weibo for $586 million, and plans to exercise an option to raise that stake to 32 percent, according to a filing. Weibo plans to use about $250 million of the proceeds from the IPO to repay loans owed to Sina.

Weibo operates a Twitter-like service that derived 79 percent of its $188.3 million in revenue from advertising and marketing last year, filings show. That amounted to about $1.46 in sales for each of its 129.1 million active monthly users. Weibo is unprofitable, posting losses for the past three years, the filing shows.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Credit Suisse Group AG managed the offering. The shares are listed on the Nasdaq Stock Market under the symbol WB.

--With assistance from Lulu Yilun Chen in Hong Kong.