Editor’s note: A version of this post by Wang Siqi first appeared on Yicai Global.
China Reading Ltd., an internet literature publishing subsidiary of Tencent Holdings Ltd., has submitted a prospectus for an initial public offering (IPO) to Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd. (HKEX), proposing to raise $600 million to $800 million in total.
The IPO is expected to mark the first in China’s internet literature market.
Tencent acquired China Reading’s predecessor, Cloudary Corp. which was owned by Shanda Interactive Entertainment Ltd., for $730 million in 2014, public information shows. Before the share offer, the Shenzhen-based tech giant indirectly held 65.38 percent of outstanding shares in China Reading via one of its wholly-owned subsidiaries. Its shareholding is projected to remain at least 50 percent following the public offering.
Compared with its rivals such as ChineseAll Digital Publishing Group Co., China Reading owns the copyrights on many symbolic upstream literary properties, which are the key to its success, Zhang Yi, chief executive of mobile internet research firm iiMedia Research Group, told Yicai Global.
China Reading logged $390 million (RMB 2.6 billion) in operating income last year, 77 percent of which came from its reading-related businesses. The number of monthly active users of its proprietary channels had reached 175 million as of the end of last year, including 160 million mobile device users and 15 million desktop users.
“The IPO will raise its brand awareness, and thus attract more online writers,” Zhang added.
Tencent decided to spin off China Reading this year.
“Tencent has become a super large conglomerate now. Spinning off China Reading as an independent company has two benefits. First, it’ll help management refine business management processes. Second, from the perspective of intellectual property interaction, separating literature assets from games will create the maximum synergistic effect,” he said.
As an online literature publishing platform, China Reading has established content publishing partnerships with Baidu Inc., Sogou Inc., JD.com Inc., Xiaomi’s Duokan.com and China Mobile Ltd., as marketing channels that supplement platform products and channels operated by itself and provided by Tencent.