Chinese Internet search giant and artificial intelligence company Baidu has received approval to launch a secondary listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, according to people with knowledge on the matter.
The Hong Kong Stock Exchange’s listing committee issued permission on Thursday to the Nasdaq-listed tech firm, which is seeking a $3.5 billion second public offering, with CLSA and Goldman Sachs serving as underwriters of the deal, Bloomberg and South China Morning Post reported.
Baidu is among a growing cohort of US-listed Chinese companies planning to stage secondary listings in the Asian financial hub amid heightening tensions between the two nations, including Tencent Music Entertainment Group, micro-blogging service Weibo and online car-trading platform Autohome.
In January, the New York Stock Exchange prohibited Americans from investing in 31 companies categorized by the Department of Defense as “Communist Chinese military” companies, in response to an executive order signed by then President Trump last November. The list comprised New York-listed firms China Telecom, China Mobile and China Unicom, all of which are co-listed in Hong Kong.
In order to hedge the risk of being delisted from US exchanges, Chinese companies have sought to diversify investor bases and have cast their eyes on Hong Kong, a location that allows them to remain closer to their home markets. Refinitiv data indicates that secondary listing in Hong Kong have totalled $34 billion since Alibaba kicked off the trend with a $12.9 billion float in 2019, Reuters reported. Last year, e-commerce giant JD.com raised $4.5 billion while games developer NetEase raised $3.1 billion.
Founded in 2000, Baidu is China’s largest search engine and has created a broad range of mobile apps. The company also owns video streaming platform iQiyi, which has 104.8 million subscribers and is listed separately on Nasdaq. Over recent years, Baidu has invested heavily in artificial intelligence technology, developing cloud services and an autonomous driving platform called Baidu Apollo.
Baidu filed for an IPO on the Nasdaq exchange in 2005, raising more than $100 million.