Selfie-editing app maker Meitu is looking to raised $500 million to $1 billion through a stock market listing, although there are some question marks over its business, according to The Wall Street Journal (WSJ).
If the company comes in at the high-end of the range, the initial public offering (IPO) on the Hong Kong exchange would be very close to that of messaging app LINE, hailed as the year’s biggest tech IPO, where it raised $1.3 billion.
Meitu’s popular apps offer image editing features that let users adjust their heights, add make-up and alter their complexion. It also offers a live-streaming app similar to Periscope and Meerkat.
In its prospectus, Meitu laid out certain risks for investors.
This include the fact that although its monthly active users grew to 446 million as of June, from 88 million in 2013, that could end because “‘we can’t necessarily always keep pace with constantly evolving tastes. It could be that we can’t push out new products or serve customers in a timely manner, or push out new products that fail to win customer acceptance”.
The WSJ noted that while this means Meitu has a bigger base than Twitter, there is likely to be some overlap between users of different apps, meaning the unique user number is lower.
What’s more, the company makes almost all its revenue not from apps but from hardware, such as devices tailor-made for selfies. It warned that rising component costs could create trouble in the future, and means it is working in the same competitive device market that is causing woes for dedicated players in this space.
And when it comes to monetising its user base, again the company is facing tough competition, and its core features could be replicated by a raft of competitors, including device makers, social networks and other app players.
According to Bloomberg, Meitu’s revenue was CNY585.5 million yuan ($88 million) in the first six months of 2016, when it made an operating loss of CNY279 million.
The firm was valued at about $3.8 billion following a fundraising round this year led by Keywise Capital Management. It is seeking a valuation of roughly $5 billion from its IPO, the report said.
Founded in 2008, Meitu raised $360 million in 2014 at a valuation of $2 billion. Backers included IDG and Qiming Venture.
Meanwhile, the listing may help Hong Kong convince more tech companies, such as Xiaomi and Didi Chuxing, to list in the region, rather than pick the New York stock exchange instead, as Alibaba did.
Tech firms made up just 10 per cent of Hong Kong’s stock market capitalisation at the end of last month, the largest being Tencent.
The WSJ report said Meitu hopes analysts may value its shares more highly because of the lack of tech firms.
The company’s management team doesn’t include strong English speakers and may also feel more comfortable dealing with Hong Kong investors, it added.