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Weibo shares jump 19 percent

April 18, 2014

Billed as China's Twitter service, Sina Weibo has debuted on the US Nasdaq exchange. Depsite a less than desired IPO, shares jumped 19 percent in its first day of trade on Wall Street.

Image: Reuters

Ahead of its debut on the Nasdaq stock exchange, China's Twitter equivalent Sina Weibo sold 16.8 million US depository shares at $17 (12.3 euros) each, raising $258.6 million.

The IPO was less than the company had hoped for, however once the bell rang Thursday, a spate of buying suggested that Wall Street is still welcoming loss-making technology companies. Weibo shares rose from $17 to as high as $24.28, before ending the day at $20.24 (14.65 euros).

Weibo plans to use the IPO's proceeds to repay loans and invest in its business.

Growth potential

Sina Weibo was launched in 2009 to provide services akin to Twitter which is banned in China. Last year, the firm tripled its revenues to almost $188 million, while still incurring losses to the tune of $38 million. It's reported to now have about 144 million active users.

But Weibo has been facing questions about the growth potential of its user base as well as rising competition from domestic rivals including Tencent's WeChat, an instant messaging platform allowing users to send text, photos, videos and voice messages over mobile devices.

Chinese tech companies are increasingly eager to go public in the US. According to media reports, the country's huge Alibaba online retailer is going to present its US IPO project next Monday. It could become the biggest tech IPO of all times, even eclipsing Facebook.

hg/hc (AFP, Reuters)

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