Jumei IPO 'milestone', CEO says

Updated: 2014-05-19 12:19

By Michael Barris and Zhang Yuwei in New York (China Daily USA)

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In another sign of the easing of the US freeze on IPOs from China, Jumei International Holding Ltd, a Chinese online cosmetics retailer benefiting from the expanding beauty and personal care products market, raised $245.1 million in a US initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange.

Chen Ou, CEO of Beijing-based Jumei, said the company's IPO is a "milestone" for its business.

"Jumei's IPO also means a new beginning for the company's upcoming business in the online retail industry in China," said Chen.

Chen said Jumei, like many other e-commerce companies in China, will have plenty of room to grow in the Chinese market due to the increasing demand of online shopping.

The 30-year-old founder of China's largest beauty products retailer received an MBA from Stanford University at the age of 26. He is the youngest CEO of companies listed on NYSE.

Chen said after this milestone, there is "a long way ahead" for the company.

"An IPO in the US will give Jumei a good platform to expose its brand and services," said Chen, adding that the company doesn't immediately extend its business in overseas markets. "But Jumei can serve as a bridge for foreign brands to land in the Chinese market."

"It sure looks like the US listing gates and IPO window are open for Chinese shares despite the difficulties many US tech companies are having," Max Wolff, an analyst at Citizen VC, told China Daily. "Weibo, JD.com, Jumei .... It very much looks like there is an appetite, although major concerns exist."

Beijing-based Jumei, backed by US venture capital firm and 19 percent shareholder Sequoia Capital, said 11.1 million of its American depositary shares were sold at $22 apiece in Friday's IPO. The size and sale price of the offering topped expectations. The company's IPO plan, filed with the US securities regulator in April, described a potential offering of 9.5 million shares in a range of $19.50 to $21.50 per share. Managers of the offering were granted an option to sell up to an additional 1.67 million shares to meet demand.

Trading under the ticker symbol JMEI, Jumei's stock opened Friday at $27.25 and rose as high as $28.28. It closed at t $24.18, or 9.9 percent above its offering price.

Jumei's 30-year-old CEO and chairman Leo Ou Chen holds a 41 percent stake in the company. Chen, joined by members of the company's management team, rang the opening bell at the NYSE.

For two years the market for US listings from China was in a deep freeze as accounting scandals involving Chinese shell companies created through reverse mergers created a chilly investment climate for the group.

The recent steady flow of Chinese technology companies or companies with a strong technological flavor going public in the US underscores the heightened US climate for Chinese offerings. Part of that fervor has been fanned by e-commerce giant Alibaba Group's pending IPO later this year, expected to be one of the largest ever.

The surge also reflects US venture capital firms' willingness to invest in IPOs from China. Sequoia has invested more than $10 million in Jumei, which reported sales of $483 million last year and has a 22.1 percent market share. The company is a middleman that ties brands to consumers, mainly targeting women. Besides cosmetics, it sells apparel, leatherwear, and small appliances.

"American investors have become more comfortable with Chinese IPOs, having purchased nearly a billion dollars in Chinese initial shares in 2013," analyst Don Dion wrote on the Seeking Alpha investment website.

Wolff called Jumei "perfectly positioned to take advantage of rising incomes, urban populations, smart phones and consumer spending" in China. The company "has posted strong growth figures the past few years, and has strong leadership," Dion wrote.

Contact the writers at michaelbarris@chinadailyusa.com or yuweizhang@chinadailyusa.com.

(China Daily USA 05/19/2014 page1)