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Ant Financial-backed Danke Apartment plans to raise USD 201 million via US IPO

Its initial public offering price is set between USD14.50 and USD16.50.

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Beijing-based online long-term property rental platform Danke Apartment has set its initial public offering price between USD14.50 and USD16.50 to raise up to USD 201 million, according to its updated prospectus filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday.

The company, which was founded in 2015 and counts Ant Financial among its investors, said USD 80 million will be used for expanding the company’s scale, including sourcing and renovating additional apartment units, USD 40 million for enhancing technological capabilities, and the balance for general corporate purposes, including branding and marketing.

Danke sources and leases apartments from individual property owners on a long-term basis. The firm renovates and furnishes such apartments in a standardized manner and then rents them out to individual residents, either as an entire apartment or private rooms within a residence, the company stated in the prospectus.

This business model is similar to that of Shanghai-based Q&K, which raised USD 42.5 million in its US IPO in November. However, since its trading debut on the Nasdaq, most of the time Q&K has been trading below its IPO price of USD 17 per ADS, indicating investors have been bearish on the company. The company closed at USD 12.45 on Wednesday.

Danke had been operating 406,746 apartment units in 13 cities in China as of September 30, a 166-fold increase over less than four years. The company emphasized in the prospectus that it has no brick-and-mortar storefronts, indicating it reaches both property owners and individual renters only via its online portals. However, behind this fast expansion, are also huge losses. The company incurred net losses of nearly RMB 1.4 billion (USD 191.6 million) in 2018 and RMB 2.5 billion (USD 352 million) during the nine months ended September 30, 2019, respectively.

Q&K, which had operated 97,000 apartment units in six cities by the end of June, booked net losses of RMB 373.2 million (USD 54.4 million) for the nine months ended June 30, 2019.

China’s residential rental market worth reached RMB 1.8 trillion in 2018 and is expected to grow to RMB 3 trillion in 2023, Danke said in the prospectus, citing data from iResearch.

Although the market is huge, the risks are large too, as more than 25 long-term rental companies have gone bust since 2018 under strained cash flows, leaving thousands of individuals homeless even after paying their rent in advance, according to Chinese media outlet Jiemian.com.