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China's Weibo messaging service files for IPO in New York

Sun, 03/16/2014 - 9:09pm
AllVoices

China"s Twitter-like messaging service, Weibo, filed its long-awaited IPO on Friday in the United States to raise $500 million.

The Beijing-based company, owned by internet giant Sina Corp., is the latest Chinese web company to offer its shares in US markets following its corporate parent and search giant Baidu.

But Weibo warned in its filing that it was subject to regulation of its content by the Chinese government, according to the Reuters international news service.

A regulation that took effect last year, for example, subjects users to up to three years in jail for sharing defamatory or false information, Reuters said.

"The implementation of this newly promulgated judicial interpretation may have a significant and adverse effect on the traffic of our platform and discourage the creation of user generated content," Weibo said in its filing.

The next big Chinese company to go public is expected to be Alibaba, the Internet commerce giant that owns nearly 20 percent of Weibo, which plans a $15 billion IPO in New York later this year, Reuters said.

Beijing expressly bans a range of material in media, sometimes including open political opposition and criticism of important officials.

Responsibility for policing such content often falls on companies, which could face fines or license revocations.

The government "may require us to limit or eliminate the dissemination of such information on our platform," Weibo said.

"Failure to do so may subject us to liabilities and penalties and may even result in the temporary blockage or complete shutdown of our online operations," the company said.

Weibo may not be the last Chinese messaging services to go public, Reuters said.

There are several similar companies operating in China, many experiencing explosive group like Weibo, and an explosion of new messaging apps have begun to siphon off users.

But Weibo said its daily users rose 36 percent in 2013 to 61.4 million, Reuters said.

Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse helped to manage Weibo"s US debut to boost brand recognition and help retain talent, Reuters said.

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