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CEO of Chinese social media giant Sina Corp proposes delisting from Nasdaq

New Wave, an entity controlled by Chao and also the largest shareholder of Sina with a 58% voting power, has proposed to buy all outstanding ordinary shares.

Sina's headquarters in Beijing Photo: Tuchong

Charles Chao, chairman and CEO of Chinese online news portal Sina (NASDAQ: SINA), parent company of Twitter-like Weibo, has moved to take the company private after 20 years on Nasdaq.

New Wave, an entity controlled by Chao and also the largest shareholder of Sina with a 58% voting power, has proposed to buy all the outstanding ordinary shares it does not own for USD 41 per share. It plans to finance the deal via a combination of debt and equity, according to a press release from Sina on Monday.

According to KrASIA’s calculations, the company needs to raise USD 2.36 billion, based on a financial report from April which shows it holds 7.9 million out of 65.4 million outstanding ordinary shares as of March 31, 2020.

New Wave’s offer price represents a roughly 20% premium to the shares’ average closing price in the previous 30 trading days, according to the proposal letter attached to the press release.

Sina’s market capitalization reached USD 2.65 billion after its shares went up 10.55% to close USD 40.54 on Monday, following disclosure of the buyout proposal.

The move is the first take-private proposal the company has received since going public in April 2000. The board has now formed a special committee consisting of independent directors Songyi Zhang, Yichen Zhang, and Yan Wang to evaluate and consider it, said Sina in the press release.

The company is among several that are leaving either the US capital market or listing their shares in Hong Kong or Mainland China amid Sino-US tensions.

Shanghai-based chip foundry Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC)  (HKG: 0981) is offering 1.68 billion shares to strategic, institutional, and individual investors in the Star Market of Shanghai Stock Exchange today after delisting from the New York Stock Exchange last year. The firm remains listed on the stock exchange of Hong Kong.

China’s cybersecurity software developer Qihoo (SHA: 601360) delisted from NYSE in July 2016 but later went public in Mainland China in 2017 via a backdoor listing on the main board of the Shanghai Stock Exchange. Beijing-based 58.com (NYSE: WUBA), China’s largest online classifieds platform, announced last year that it has entered into a go-private agreement to be fully acquired by a consortium of investors for USD 8.7 billion, raising speculation that the company is mulling a China relisting, as KrASIA reported earlier.

In addition, Alibaba (NYSE: BABA), which went public in 2014 in the US, debuted on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in November last year in a secondary listing, followed by NetEase (NASDAQ: NTES) and JD.com (NASDAQ: JD), which went public in Hong Kong last month.