Robotics company UBTech eyeing STAR Market for IPO

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ubtech zhou jian
UBTECH founder Zhou Jian. (Image credit: UBTECH)

UBTech Robotics, a Shenzhen-based manufacturer of human-like robots backed by Tencent, said that it is considering listing on Shanghai’s new STAR Market.

Why it’s important: The promising robotics company’s choice to list in the mainland is music to Beijing’s ears. Shanghai stock exchange’s new tech board is an attempt to woo homegrown companies from listing overseas.

  • UBTech raised $820 million and was valued at $5 billion in its last funding round in May 2018. It has been earning profits since.

“We are preparing for the public markets . . . We have not made a decision yet but we are much more likely to raise money in the mainland market.”

—Michael Tam, Chief Brand Officer at UBTech

Details: UBTech was founded seven years ago and has caught the attention of large investors. It was the first robotics company in China to reach unicorn status.

  • Tencent led its series C round in 2017, in which it contributed $40 million.
  • Investors see enormous potential, particularly as the Chinese government plans to make robotics a $150 billion market by 2030.
  • So far, the company’s robots are used in the education and service industries. They also greet Manchester City’s soccer players and dance in the stadium at halftime.

Context: After years of seeing domestic companies seek public offerings abroad, including heavyweights Alibaba and Tencent, China wants to keep big listings on its own turf. Its regulations for tech companies listing on Shanghai’s tech board are relaxed compared with other exchanges in China.

  • Nine companies announced last week that their shares will be on offer for trading beginning on July 22.
  • More than 100 companies have applied for listings, looking for a combined $16 billion in funding.