Chinese news outlet Caixin aims to raise up to $200 million for tech development, growth: sources

HONG KONG (Reuters) - News outlet Caixin Media Company Ltd, founded by one of China’s most respected journalists, Hu Shuli, is seeking to raise up to $200 million in its latest funding round to finance growth, said two people with direct knowledge of the matter.

Hu Shuli, founder of Caixin Media, speaks at a sports industry forum during the Caixin Summit in Beijing, China December 4, 2016. Caixin Media via REUTERS

The Beijing-based firm is looking to raise $100 million to $200 million with a target valuation of about $500 million prior to the funding round, said one of the people.

Caixin, backed by tech giant Tencent Holdings Ltd and investment firm China Media Capital (CMC), plans to primarily use the proceeds to develop business-related technologies and finance expansion, said the second person.

The dollar fundraising comes as Caixin, which has mostly raised yuan-denominated capital, looks to go public overseas in the coming two to three years, with Hong Kong the preferred listing venue, the person said.

The people declined to be identified as the matter was private. Caixin declined to comment.

Caixin, with its eponymous flagship magazine, has grown from a pure business publication to a comprehensive, influential media group in the world’s second-largest economy.

It mainly provides Chinese corporate, political and financial news and analysis, as well as publishing business data and indices, including the Caixin/Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index.

Hu, widely seen as outspoken and well connected, established Caixin in 2009 after leaving her post as editor-in-chief at another well-known business publication, Caijing, where she had a high-profile tussle for control with the latter’s owners.

Under Hu’s leadership, Caixin has attracted a devoted following among the country’s policy makers, business leaders and academics. It also brought in CMC chief Li Ruigang, a Chinese media mogul, as its chairman following CMC’s 2013 investment.

China has seen rapid growth in the media industry in recent years, with its gross market value expected to reach 3 trillion yuan ($447 billion) by 2020, showed a report by Tsinghua University.

The industry, however, has faced various challenges ranging from media censorship, copyright violation and disruption from non-traditional players such as news aggregator Toutiao.

In 2017, Caixin became China’s first mainstream media outlet to introduce a pay wall subscription model for its digital products, as part of efforts to protect content from copyright infringement and boost revenue.

Its Chinese-language website has page views and unique visitors of 130 million and 50 million per month, respectively, said one of the sources.

Last year, overseas English-language arm Caixin Global and private equity firm CITIC Capital bought financial information provider Global Markets Intelligence Division for $180.5 million.

Reporting by Julie Zhu; Additional reporting by Shu Zhang; Editing by Christopher Cushing