Baidu looks to raise $3 billion in Hong Kong listing

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Chinese search engine company Baidu Inc is looking to raise at least $3.03 billion by selling 95 million shares as books opened on Thursday for its Hong Kong listing, according to a term sheet from the deal’s launch.

FILE PHOTO: A logo of Baidu is seen during the World Internet Conference (WIC) in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province, China, November 23, 2020. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

Baidu’s New York listed shares were trading nearly 4% higher on the back of the deal being launched on Thursday.

In Hong Kong, the shares will be priced at no more than HK$295 ($38.02) per share for retail shareholders and represent 3.4% of the company’s total shares, it said in documents sent to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Institutional investors could pay more for the shares, a term sheet seen by Reuters showed, without specifying a range.

One Baidu ADR is equivalent to eight of its Hong Kong shares, the filings show.

The $3.03 billion target is based on Baidu’s closing price of $255.14 in New York on Wednesday, according to the term sheet.

A further 14.25 million shares can be sold as part of a so-called greenshoe option that would take the size of the issue to $3.48 billion, it said.

The final price for Baidu’s shares will be set on March 17 and trading will begin on the Hong Kong market on March 23.

A maximum price of $HK295 per share represents a 15.2% premium to the closing price of Baidu’s U.S.-listed stock on Tuesday.

Baidu intends to use about half of the proceeds raised from the Hong Kong deal to invest in technology and enhance its artificial intelligence (AI) offers, according to the term sheet.

A further 40% of the funds raised will be spent on growing Baidu Mobile and the rest on general corporate purposes, it said.

Baidu added it expected its ADRs to continue to be listed on the Nasdaq. Reuters reported last year that the company had considered leaving the U.S. exchange to boost its valuation.

Baidu’s shares recently rose as much as over 100% since Reuters first reported the company’s electric vehicle-making plan in December.

($1 = 7.7594 Hong Kong dollars)

Reporting by Scott Murdoch in Hong Kong and Yingzhi Yang in Beijing; Editing by Mark Potter, Jonathan Oatis and David Evans