Following Alibaba, its online merchants now eye listings

Updated: 2016-05-25 08:23

By MENG JING(China Daily)

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Following Alibaba, its online merchants now eye listings

Sitrust provides home decoration services across China. The store ranked seventh by gross merchandise volume at Tmall, the B2C platform owned by Alibaba Group on Nov 11, 2015, the largest promotion day of the e-commerce giant.[Photo/]

They are from various industries like clothing, home furnishing, food and electronics. Sector leaders boast a combined valuation of hundreds of billions of yuan.

They plan to use the proceeds of their initial public offerings for business expansion.

Guo Jia, chief executive officer of Mayn, a firm in Hubei province that assembles personal computers as per its customers' specifications, said after four years of growth in China, annual sales are projected to reach 3.5 billion yuan this year.

Mayn is popular among video game fanatics who make enormous performance demands on their PCs.

"We assemble superb gaming equipment by sourcing top-end hardware from top suppliers such as Dell Inc," said Guo.

Mayn is ready to expand into the Western markets. "But we have no money to support our overseas expansion."

Mayn, he said, has already received two rounds of funding from venture capitals. It is, therefore, very difficult to find fresh rounds of financing from investors. Banks are not an option for firms such as Mayn that have very little, in terms of physical assets like factories, to offer as collateral for loans.

So, Mayn plans to list first on the New Third Board-the National Equities Exchange and Quotations-that has fewer regulatory hurdles than mainstream bourses.

Later, Mayn will turn to ChiNext, China's Nasdaq-style board for tech companies and startups.

Mayn is not alone in adopting this approach. Nelson Li-led Guangzhou Taotall Technology Co Ltd, which offers turnkey solutions for firms seeking to set up online shops, has already listed on the New Third Board.

"But the ultimate goal is to have an IPO in 2018," Li said. "Improving the company's valuation is one reason (for the IPO). The visibility and the money that an IPO generates could help us secure high-quality talent, which is very critical for the company's growth in the long run.

"E-commerce is a super-competitive business, every one is running fast all the time. At some point, even if you run a bit slower, you will be chased up, but you may never get ahead again."

Thankfully for firms such as Taotall and Mayn, equity investors regard e-commerce stocks as darlings.

According to financial data provider Wind Information, the average price-to-earnings ratio for e-commerce-related stocks on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange was 142 times by the end of April, compared with 46 times for all stocks listed on it.

To help IPO-minded online merchants wade through legal and procedural waters, Alibaba set up a special department in March. The initiative will act as a go-between linking merchants, bourses and China's securities regulator.

Earlier this month, Alibaba led a delegation of executives from 50 online merchants to the Shenzhen Stock Exchange on which most of China's tech stocks are listed.

Gu Ying, head of the initiative, said: "We think the flow-on effect of the listing of Alibaba's online merchants is going to be even bigger than that of Alibaba's listing itself."