Tencent’s China Literature broke the record set by online insurer ZhongAn before it started trading on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on Wednesday. Investors overbought the stock of China’s largest online publishing and e-book site by over 600 times, surpassing ZhongAn at 391 times.

The brand effect of Tencent has turned China Literature into a hot stock, suggests Alvin Cheung, a director for Prudential Brokerage, to SCMP. The stock started trading above HK$90, compared with the offer price of HK$55, and rapidly climbed to HK$104 as of this writing. The e-book giant raised about $1.1 billion through the IPO, making it the city’s second-largest stock sale by an internet company in 2017 after ZhongAn. The funds will be used for acquisitions and expanding its digital publishing business, Reuters IFR reported.

The e-book site has a business akin to Amazon’s Kindle Store, operating a platform of 9.6 million literary works from over six million authors. About 6% of its nearly 200 million monthly active users paid to read in the first half of the year. Most of its traffic has come from phones amid a booming market for mobile reading, which reached RMB 11.86 billion in revenue by the end of 2016, according to data from Analysys.

The profitable China Literature earns revenues when users pay for a book after sampling the first few chapters. The e-book site also makes money by licensing its popular content to film, TV, and game producers. 

Tencent owns an ecosystem of entertainment businesses, the most lucrative of which is its gaming division. Tencent Music Entertainment Group, which gobbles up over 75% of China’s online music streaming market, is also on course for an IPO. Tencent Video takes up about 33% of Chinese users with online one video app as of July.

Tencent currently owns 62% of China Literature, while private equity firm Carlyle Group LP  has a 12.2% stake. The e-book company, now the country’s biggest online book publisher, was founded in 2014 through a merger of Tencent Literature and Cloudary, which Tencent later acquired.

Telling the uncommon China stories through tech. I can be reached at ritacyliao [at] gmail [dot] com.

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