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'China's TechCrunch' 36Kr files for Nasdaq listing

Buoyed by enterprise services, media startup looks to rattled US IPO market

Beijing-based 36Kr, one of China's leading tech news portals, has filed to raise up to $100 million in a U.S. IPO.   © Reuters

NEW YORK -- Chinese tech news and data portal 36Kr on Monday filed to raise up to $100 million in an initial public offering in the U.S.

The Beijing-based media company, often compared to Silicon Valley's TechCrunch, provides content about the tech industry, as well as enterprise-facing services such as consulting, integrated marketing and offline events.

Revenue at 36Kr grew to 202 million yuan, or $29.4 million, in the first half of 2019, a 179% increase on the year. The rapid growth was enabled by a surge in its value-added enterprise services, which accounted for half of its sales that period.

But the startup's listing on the tech-heavy Nasdaq will be tested by an increasingly cautious U.S. IPO market, which was rattled by a botched offering attempt by office-sharing provider WeWork.

Disappointing listings earlier this year, including that of ride-hailing company Uber Technologies, which raised $8.1 billion but is now trading at a third below its IPO price, and a shift in the global macroeconomic environment have also dented investors' risk tolerance.

The media startup's IPO filing also comes amid reports that the Trump administration is considering blocking Chinese listings from U.S. exchanges, as one way to limit American investment in China.

Despite recording profits in both 2017 and 2018, 36Kr lost 45.5 million yuan, or $6.6 million, in the six months ended June 30.

Going forward, enterprise-facing services will continue to be 36Kr's focus. The company said in its prospectus that it plans to use 40% of proceeds to expand business service scope, client base and service depth, compared with the 20% it will allocate to enhancing content.

Credit Suisse and Chinese investment bank CICC are underwriters of the offering.

Nikkei has a minority stake in 36Kr.

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