Wandering China

An East/West pulse of China's fourth rise from down under.

Renren plans US listing this year [Financial Times]

China’s version of Facebook is getting its US listing. The Chinese internet landscape has been changing rapidly, and the voice of social media is getting stronger, and stronger. Savvier companies work hand in hand with the authorities to allow for their growth, whilst ‘Facebook and other western social media sites, including YouTube, are blocked in China.’

Chinese Social-Networking Site Renren Files to Raise $584 Million in IPO (Bloomberg, April 16, 2011)

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Renren plans US listing this year
By Kathrin Hille in Beijing
Source – Financial Times, published February 20 2011

Renren.com plans to list in the US this year in a deal that could make the Chinese company one of the world’s first social networking sites the public can invest in.

The company plans to raise about $500m in an offering managed by Deutsche BankMorgan Stanley and Credit Suisse, said people close to the situation.

China’s internet companies have mostly been followers, copying their larger and more mature US peers’ business models and adjusting them for their domestic market. But Renren’s planned listing could make it a leader in attracting investor funds.

As Facebook is not yet listed, Renren could become virtually the only choice for investors seeking to buy into the sector’s growth. The situation is similar with microblogs. While Twitter is not listed, investors can buy shares in Sina, Tencent or Sohu, the Chinese internet portals which all operate microblog services.

Renren was founded in 2005, a year after Facebook, under the name of Xiaonei, or “inside school”. In 2006, its founder sold it to Oak Pacific Interactive, a privately owned fund. The new management gave the site its current name, which means “everyone”. Although the company’s 160m registered users are far fewer than Facebook’s, it operates in the world’s most populous internet market. China had 457m internet users as of December 2010.

Renren has not published financial data but said its advertising revenues grew by more than 100 per cent last year and in 2009. No details were available on what value a $500m IPO would place on the company.

Many of Renren’s features closely mirror those of Facebook, with some adjustments for Chinese cultural preferences.

Facebook and other western social media sites, including YouTube, are blocked in China.

Neither Joe Chen, Renren’s chief executive, nor a company spokesman responded to requests for comment. Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse declined to comment.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2011. You may share using our article tools. Please don’t cut articles from FT.com and redistribute by email or post to the web.


Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Bloomberg, Charm Offensive, Communications, Culture, Domestic Growth, Economics, Education, Finance, Financial Times, Influence, International Relations, Internet, Media, Public Diplomacy, Social, Soft Power, Technology, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities

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