Tencent-backed Sea Ltd jumps in debut, but soon reverses course

(Reuters) - Sea Ltd SE.N, a Singapore-based online gaming and e-commerce company backed by Tencent 0700.HK, rose 13 percent their debut on Friday, giving the company a market valuation of $5.39 billion.

The company saw strong demand for its offering. It sold 59 million shares, 18.7 percent more than it had originally planned to, for $15 apiece, above its indicative range of $12 to $14.

Sea Ltd’s shares, which debuted at about 11:10 a.m. ET, had given up their gains within 20 minutes to trade down about 3.5 percent at $14.47, with trading volumes of 18.6 million making them the sixth most actively traded stock in the United States.

Sea Ltd is the biggest Asian online gaming company to list in the United States to date. It is also the 12th Asian company to list in the United States in 2017, which has been a very active year for initial public offerings.

U.S. exchanges are set to record their busiest year for IPOs from Asian firms since 2010 and may sustain the pace in 2018, as startups from Taiwan, Singapore and Vietnam join a flurry of Chinese firms that have already listed in the country.

Chinese online micro-credit provider Qudian Inc QD.N, the biggest-ever U.S. listing by a Chinese fintech firm, also debuted this week and saw its shares surging nearly 50 percent in the first hour of trading.

Sea Ltd’s net loss attributable to ordinary shareholders was $165.14 million for the six months ended June 30, nearly doubling from the year-ago period.

Asian tech-giant Tencent, which owns WeChat, will have a stake of around 35 percent in Sea Ltd after the offering, retaining its seat as the company’s biggest shareholder.

Sea Ltd was formed in 2009 and operates three main brands – Garena for online games, Shopee for e-commerce and AirPay for digital financial services.

Reporting By Aparajita Saxena in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D’Souza