Citi, Credit Suisse drop China's Ucommune U.S. IPO over valuation -sources

SYDNEY/HONG KONG (Reuters) - Citigroup Inc C.N and Credit Suisse Group AG CSGN.S have dropped out of the U.S. initial public offering of Chinese shared workspace provider Ucommune, baulking at its desired valuation, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said.

FILE PHOTO: A room is seen at UCommune coworking space in Shanghai, China March 7, 2019. Picture taken March 7, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song

Ucommune’s latest filing with the U.S Securities and Exchange Commission lists Chinese banks Haitong International and China Renaissance as leading the planned IPO.

Earlier filings had named Citigroup and Credit Suisse, but both walked away over the past few days because they could not agree an achievable valuation with Ucommune, the people said, declining to be identified because the information was private.

Ucommune did not immediately respond to a request for comment, while Citigroup and Credit Suisse declined to comment.

“There was a big gap between what the company had hoped to achieve and where the market is sitting now,” one of the people said, adding that pressure for a higher valuation also came from some investors who took stakes in recent private funding rounds.

The valuation that Ucommune is pursuing and the valuation that Credit Suisse and Citi believed possible could not be learned.

The banks also had concerns about Ucommune’s rapid timeline to complete its IPO, another of the sources said. The company is eyeing a listing as soon as early January, the source added.

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Data provider Dealogic told Reuters on Thursday it was not aware of any company ever going public on a U.S. exchange without a Western bank, as would be the case with Ucommune.

It is possible that a Western bank will still join Ucommune’s IPO syndicate before its stock market debut, one of the sources said.

In recent months, Credit Suisse has also exited the U.S. IPOs of Chinese drone maker Ehang EH.O and Chinese cryptocurrency mining equipment maker Canaan CAN.O before their listings, according to regulatory filings.

Credit Suisse declined to comment on these IPOs.

Ucommune raised $200 million in November last year, giving the Beijing-based group a valuation of $2.6 billion.

At least one adviser warned Ucommune in recent weeks that it would likely get a lower valuation from its IPO - a so-called down round when the latest funding gives a company a lower valuation than the preceding one - one of the sources said.

Ucommune refused to accept the advice, the source added.

While Ucommune’s preliminary filing did not provide any details of the size of the offering, sources previously told Reuters it was aiming to raise about $200 million.

Reuters revealed Ucommune’s IPO plans in October in the week that larger U.S.-based rival WeWork was forced to accept a $10 billion bailout after investors, eying its mounting losses, baulked at the valuation it sought from its IPO.

Ucommune, which says it has shared workspaces in 200 locations across 44 cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Los Angeles and New York, posted a net loss of 572.8 million yuan ($81 million) for the nine months to the end of September on revenue of 874.6 million yuan.

Its IPO push comes just as Ping An Insurance’s OneConnect Financial Technology cut its planned U.S. IPO and lowered its target valuation to up to $3.64 billion, well below the $7.5 billion in its maiden funding round last year.

Reporting by Scott Murdoch and Julie Zhu; Additional reporting by Joshua Franklin in New York; Editing by Jennifer Hughes, Alexander Smith and Leslie Adler