China's Kingsoft sets terms for U.S. listing, first major IPO since coronavirus crisis

(This May 4 story issues an official correction to correct the proposed valuation)

NEW YORK (Reuters) - China’s Kingsoft Cloud Holdings Ltd said on Monday it aims to sell up to $450 million in stock in a U.S. initial public offering (IPO), which could value the cloud service provider at as much as $3.8 billion.

Kingsoft will be the first major U.S. IPO by a company that is neither a biotechnology firm nor special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) since the coronavirus outbreak roiled global stocks in March. Biotech and SPAC IPOs are typically immune to broader market swings.

Kingsoft offers cloud infrastructure as well as enterprise cloud and artificial intelligence of things services. Cloud computing has so far been one of the sectors boosted by the novel coronavirus outbreak as it drives more businesses to operate digitally and rely on cloud computing.

Kingsoft is looking to sell 25 million American depositary shares (ADS) between $16 and $18 per ADS, the company said. It expects to price its IPO on Thursday and start trading on the Nasdaq stock exchange on Friday under the symbol “KC.”

Existing shareholders Kingsoft Group and Xiaomi as well as Carmignac Gestion have shown an interest in anchoring the IPO, buying up to $25 million, $50 million and $50 million of the stock offered, respectively.

The IPO is also the first gauge of U.S. investor demand for Chinese companies going public in New York after a fraud scandal sent shares in Chinese coffee chain Luckin Coffee into freefall last month.

Luckin, whose stock is down almost 90% in 2020, had one of the most successful U.S. IPOs by a Chinese company last year, attracting interest from the likes of BlackRock Inc and hedge fund Citron Capital.

“There is no doubt that the Luckin debacle has put a cloud over the Chinese IPOs in the pipeline, but the interest for Chinese companies to list here in the U.S. remains strong,” said Jason Ye, Asia practice chair of law firm Ortoli Rosenstadt LLP, which advises Chinese companies on their IPOs.

Following Luckin’s fallout, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) issued a joint statement warning investors against Chinese companies with regard to risks including financial reporting.

Since the Luckin scandal, SEC and PCAOB issued a joint statement requiring Chinese companies must disclose prominently as a risk factor if their auditors are not inspected by the PCAOB, which oversees the audits of public companies in the United States.

Kingsoft has become the first Chinese company to disclose such risks following the statement, said Melanie Chen, head of China Group at UHY LLP, a New-York based accounting firm.

Kingsoft estimated revenue for the first three months of 2020 were between 1.35 billion yuan ($191.2 million) to 1.4 billion yuan ($198.3 million), an increase in the range of 59.6% to 65.5% year on year. The company incurred a net loss in 2019 of 1.1 billion yuan, compared to a net loss of 1 billion yuan in 2018.

JPMorgan, UBS, Credit Suisse and CICC are the banks underwriting the IPO.

Reporting by Joshua Franklin and Echo Wang in New York; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Lisa Shumaker