ByteDance to spend up to $3 billion to repurchase shares from investors

The logo of TikTok's parent company ByteDance is seen at its booth during an organised media tour to the Zhongguancun National Innovation Demonstration Zone Exhibition Center in Beijing, China February 10, 2022. REUTERS/Florence Lo/File Photo

BEIJING, Sept 16 (Reuters) - ByteDance will spend up to $3 billion to repurchase shares in a deal that values the Chinese unlisted owner of TikTok at around $300 billion, according to a company memo to investors seen by Reuters on Friday.

The exercise is mainly aimed at helping some of its shareholders improve their liquidity positions, a person with direct knowledge of the plan said.

ByteDance had explored conducting an initial public offering in Hong Kong, sources have said, but company said in April last year it had no imminent plans.

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The company's board will put the proposal, which values its shares at up to $176.9 apiece, to its shareholders at the end of this month and plans to carry out the buyback in the next two to three months, the person with direct knowledge said.

Recent trades in the private equity secondary market valued the company at $300 billion or lower, the person and a separate source said.

That compares with valuations of between $300 billion and $400 billion it received in the secondary market last year. Even at $300 billion, it is one of the world's most valuable private companies, according to CB Insights.

The sources declined to identified as the information was confidential.

Slower economic growth, much of which is due to COVID curbs, as well as Beijing's regulatory crackdown on the tech sector have crimped earnings prospects for many Chinese internet firms.

The company last month cut the price of stock options granted to employees by 20% from its 2021 plan.

Revenue growth in 2021 also slowed to 70% compared with more than 100% a year earlier.

In addition to TikTok, ByteDance's other hit apps include its Chinese equivalent Douyin and news aggregator Jinri Toutiao. In 2021, users spent approximately $2.3 billion in TikTok and the iOS version of Douyin, according to Sensor Tower.

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Reporting by Yingzhi Yang and Brenda Goh; Editing by Edwina Gibbs

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