Baidu’s Hong Kong debut hit by fundraising fatigue

China’s answer to Google closes opening day flat but still raises US$3.1 billion

Baidu has failed to make a splash on its Hong Kong secondary listing debut.

Shares in China’s answer to Google ended flat as investors questioned the online company’s growth plans.

There were also concerns about the sustainability of the flurry of fundraising by Chinese companies.

“This is a secondary IPO [initial public offering] so we can’t expect the same pop as a first listing like Kuaishou [whose stock surged 160% in an IPO worth US$5.3 billion],” Rui Ma, the host of podcast Techbuzz, said.

The facts:

  • Baidu shares closed at HK$252 or US$32.44.
  • This was in line with the price set for the Hong Kong listing, raising US$3.1 billion.
  • More than US$31 billion has been raised on IPOs in Hong Kong so far this year.
  • During the same period in 2020, it was US$8.6 billion.

Quiet homecoming: “When Baidu [was] listed on the Nasdaq, I said [it] was only one of our stops. Baidu would [eventually] come back to China [and the company’s roots.] Today, Baidu finally came back home,” Robin Li, the Baidu chairman and CEO, said in Beijing as reported by the Reuters news agency.

Delve deeper: Baidu is part of the powerful BAT grouping with Alibaba and Tencent. The company’s core business has revolved around its search engine and big data. But in January it announced it would move into e-car production after working on auto software solutions.

Alternative view: “There is too much paper around, the listings have been never-ending and companies have raised money so easily without any real need,” one Hong Kong fund manager, who could not be named as he was not authorized to speak to the media, told Reuters.

China Factor comment: Beijing has launched a raft of regulations for online companies as it targets the sheer size of big tech. How this will affect Baidu is open to debate.