Tiger Global-backed rental platform Danke closes flat after downsized IPO

The apartment rental company raised USD 129.6 million, the majority of which came from existing shareholders.

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Phoenix Tree Holdings Ltd., also known as Danke Apartment in Chinaclosed at USD 13.5 per American depositary share (ADS) on its New York Stock Exchange debut on Friday, flat with its IPO price.

The Beijing-based company, which once sought to offer 10.6 million shares at USD 14.5 to USD 16.5 apiece to raise USD 201 million, finally raised USD 129.6 million by floating 9.6 million shares at USD 13.5.

Ant Financial, Tiger Global, and Joy Capital each allocated 2.2 million, 1.85 million and 1.33 million shares respectively, accounting for 56.3% of the total. One unnamed strategic investor also bought 1.85 million shares, representing 19.3% of the offering.

According to the company’s prospectus, Tiger Global had a 20% stake in Danke before the IPO, while Joy Capital owned a 15.7%, and Ant Financial a 7.8%.

Danke leases apartments from individual owners on a long-term basis, renovating and furnishing them before renting the properties to tenants. China’s residential rental market hit RMB 1.8 trillion (USD 260 billion) in 2018 and is expected to grow to RMB 3 trillion in 2023, Danke said in the prospectus, citing data from iResearch.

Other companies operating under similar models include Ziroom and Q&K. The latter raised USD 42.5 million in its US IPO on Nasdaq in November, but has been mostly trading below its IPO price of USD 17 per ADS since then.

As of September, Danke had been operating 406,746 apartment units in 13 cities across China, a 166-fold increase since 2016. However, 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) from January to September 2019, respectively.

According to analyst Arun George of Global Equity Research Ltd, who published his insights on research provider Smartkarma, Danke seems to be “an empire built on sand” as it struggles to establish a clear path to profitability while being committed to growth at all costs. It also faces rapidly declining organic growth and deteriorating margins, said George.

Others are not so bearish. Zohoa Capital, for example, said that they believe that Danke’s market opportunity and sales growth may enable it to reach UDS 25 per share in 2020.