Sina hires Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse for Weibo's New York IPO

By Nicel Jane Avellana

Feb 24, 2014 12:10 PM EST

Sources told the Financial Times that China-based Internet firm Sina has chosen Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse to handle the initial public offering in New York of Weibo, its microblogging platform. The IPO is expected to raise $500 million and is scheduled to be completed sometime in the second quarter of this year, the report said.

China's e-commerce giant Alibaba secured an 18% stake in Weibo last year in a $586 million deal. The sale placed the value of the Twitter-like messaging service to $3.3 billion. With the increase of Sina's share price to around one-third, however, Weibo's value could well be north of $4 billion, the report said.

Investors seeking to increase their exposure to China have turned to Internet stocks last year. WeChat owner Tencent saw its shares rise to over two times in the past 12 months. This increase enabled it to outperform big names like McDonald's, Cisco and Boeing as far as market capitalization is concerned. Tencent's market cap is now pegged at nearly $140 billion, the report said.

Whether Alibaba proceeds with its planned listing is something that investors are also monitoring closely. New York and Hong Kong are still contenders for the listing which could put the company's value to over $100 billion, the report said.

Equity markets around the world are getting a boost from the strong activity in the tech sector at the beginning of this year. The value of tech deals so far is already pegged at $50 billion after the $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp by Facebook last week. This is the most hectic year opener since the peak of the dotcom bubble in 2000, the report said.

However, Weibo's IPO could come at a shaky period. A report from a government-affiliated research group showed microblog users in China declined by a tenth from 2012 to 2013 due in part to censorship and fiercer competition from WeChat, FT reported.

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