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Hesai Group rises in U.S. IPO, biggest for Chinese firm since 2021

Published Feb 09, 2023 04:57PM ET Updated Feb 10, 2023 12:31AM ET
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By Scott Murdoch and Echo Wang

NEW YORK (Reuters) -Chinese sensor maker Hesai Group's shares closed 10.8% percent higher on their first day of trade in New York after it raised $190 million in an upsized initial public offering (IPO), the largest U.S. deal by a mainland Chinese company in more than a year.

The company sold 10 million American depository receipts (ADRs) at $19 apiece, according to its regulatory filings, and shares closed at $21.05.

Shanghai-based Hesai produces laser-based components essential for autonomous driving systems, known as lidar sensors.

The deal is the biggest from a Chinese company selling shares in New York since LianBio raised $334 million in October 2021, according to Refinitiv data.

"We always wanted to be able to compete at the global stage, not only on the product, but also on the capital side," Hesai's co-founder and CEO, Yifan "David" Li, told Reuters.

Chinese company listings in the United States ground to a halt in 2021 after the debut of ride hailing giant Didi Global Inc in June of that year.

Days after Didi went public, China's powerful internet watchdog, Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), launched a cybersecurity probe into the company's data practices and ordered app stores to remove 25 mobile apps operated by Didi.

As a result, Chinese listings in the United States dwindled and mainland regulators also moved to draw up new guidelines governing companies selling shares overseas.

The final rules are yet to be published by the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC).

China also announced in January 2022 that platform companies with data on more than 1 million users would require CAC's sign-off before listing overseas.

"Unfortunately, there were a lot of regulatory concerns from last year that it became challenging for anybody to list. And I feel like most of those concerns are gone", said Li, adding, "investors are pretty confident and somewhat bullish about our business."

Chinese companies raised nearly $230 million in U.S. listings in 2022, according to Refinitiv data, representing a massive drop from $12.85 billion a year earlier.

However, advisers are hoping that China's reopened borders and the government's renewed focus on reviving economic growth could prompt more capital raisings.

"This could definitely open up the ADR market," said Nora Yeung, co-head of Asia Pacific ECM origination at Credit Suisse, which led the Hesai IPO.

"After the pricing of this deal, we have had a lot of reverse enquiries from the corporate side who want to hear about the process and for those who had been in the pipeline they would think that this would give them a renewed window for them to tap the ADR market."

The U.S. accounting watchdog said in mid-December that it had full access to inspect and investigate firms in China for the first time, reducing the prospect of Chinese companies in the United States being delisted over accounting issues.

Hesai Group rises in U.S. IPO, biggest for Chinese firm since 2021

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