Tencent-backed live-streaming firm DouYu prices U.S. IPO at low end of range

NEW YORK/HONG KONG (Reuters) - DouYu International Holdings Ltd DOYU.N, China's largest live-streaming platform, on Tuesday said it sold $775 million in stock at a $3.73 billion valuation after pricing its U.S. initial public offering (IPO) at the bottom of an indicative range.

FILE PHOTO: A girl broadcasts live from a phone as she holds a selfie stick with a sign of the live-streaming platform DouYu during an event celebrating the new year in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, December 31, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

DouYu, which is backed by Chinese social media and gaming giant Tencent Holdings Ltd 0700.HK, sold American depositary shares (ADS) at $11.5 each, compared with a previously stated target of $11.50 to $14.00, the firm said in a statement. Every 10 ADSs represent one ordinary share.

That makes the deal the largest Chinese IPO in the United States so far in 2019, eclipsing that of Luckin Coffee Inc LK.O which raised $645 million, according Refinitiv data.

However the weak pricing opens questions about the necessity of DouYu’s decision in May to put its IPO on hold amid a global markets sell-off stemming from U.S.-China trade tensions.

The IPO was also a test of U.S. investor demand for Chinese stocks after Anheuser Busch InBev NV ABI.BR called off the Hong Kong listing of its Asia-Pacific brewing business due to weak orders from U.S. "long only" fund managers.

DouYu, which primarily focuses on the live-streaming of games, is one of several Chinese start-ups in the growing market for live-streaming in the world's second-biggest economy, along with Huajiao and U.S.-listed Huya Inc HUYA.N.

DouYu has exclusive streaming rights to 29 major tournaments in China, including League of Legends, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and DOTA2, according to its IPO filing.

The rapid growth of the live-streaming sector has seen China's tech heavyweights - Tencent, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd BABA.N and Baidu Inc BIDU.O - open their wallets to back a slew of firms in the hope of boosting existing services in e-commerce, social networking and gaming.

DouYu’s losses in 2018 widened to 876.3 million yuan ($127.43 million) from 612.9 million yuan a year earlier, its prospectus showed. The company did, however, report a profit of 18.2 million yuan for the first three months of 2019.

Of the shares on sale in the IPO, DouYu sold two-thirds to raise $517 million, with the remainder sold by existing investors.

Shares of DouYu, which translates to “Fighting Fish”, are due to start trading on Wednesday under the symbol “DOYU” on the Nasdaq stock exchange.

Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan, Bank Of America Merrill Lynch and CMB International are the underwriting banks on the IPO.

Reporting by Joshua Franklin in New York and Julie Zhu in Hong Kong; Editing by Christopher Cushing