UPDATE 1-Chinese education company Tarena rises in U.S. market debut

Thu Apr 3, 2014 11:33am EDT

* Shares open at $9.86, above IPO price of $9

* Values company at $540 mln at day's high (Adds details about IPO market; updates share move)

April 3 (Reuters) - Shares of Tarena International Inc , a provider of IT education in China, rose as much as 18 percent in their market debut, valuing the company at about $540 million, underscoring the renewed interest in Chinese stocks among U.S. investors.

The Beijing-based company's initial public offering raised about $138 million after the IPO was priced at $9 per American Depositary Share, the mid-point of its expected range.

Tarena's shares opened at $9.86 and touched a high of $10.65 on the Nasdaq on Thursday.

Chinese companies are flocking to the U.S. IPO market in their biggest numbers since 2010, drawn by soaring valuations for tech start-ups and undeterred by the recent flare-up in an accounting row between Washington and Beijing.

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd IPO-ALIB.N is inching closer to a listing in the United States. E-commerce company JD.com Inc and Twitter-like messaging service Weibo Corp have also filed for U.S. IPOs.

Improving economic fundamentals and strong capital markets have boosted the U.S. IPO markets, doubling IPO volumes for the first quarter, according to a report by consulting firm EY.

Foreign listings accounted for 16 percent of the 68 U.S. IPOs this year as of March 18, raising $1.9 billion.

Tarena, which counts Goldman Sachs as one of its stockholders, posted a 63 percent jump in revenue to $92.8 million for the year ended Dec. 31.

Founded in 2002, Tarena has trained more than 130,000 students and offers a platform for distance education, classroom-based tutoring and online learning modules, mainly in IT subjects.

Tarena, like a number of other Chinese companies listing in the United States, relies on a little-tested legal structure called variable interest entity (VIE) that gives an investor economic interest but no ownership.

The structure helps companies bypass Chinese government bans on foreign ownership in some business sectors.

Of the 15.3 million Class A shares on offer, Tarena sold 11.5 million, with the rest being sold by selling stockholders.

Goldman Sachs (Asia) LLC and Credit Suisse were the lead underwriters to the offering. (Reporting By Neha Dimri in Bangalore; Editing by Maju Samuel)