China’s top movie ticketing app operator seeks US$1 billion in Hong Kong IPO

The website of Chinese movie ticketing app Maoyan Weying is seen next to the app on a mobile phone in this illustration picture taken September 4, 2018. (Reuters pic)

HONG KONG: China’s top movie ticketing platform, Maoyan Weying, has filed for a Hong Kong listing in which it aims to raise between US$500 million and US$1 billion, according to two people familiar with the company’s plans.

The company, which filed its prospectus under the name of Entertainment Plus on Monday, offers ticketing services through its Maoyan and Gewara apps in China – the world’s second-largest movie market after the United States.

A company spokesman declined to comment on details of the IPO, including the size of the share sale and a valuation of the company.

Maoyan Weying was valued at 20 billion yuan (US$2.9 billion) in November last year when it raised 1 billion yuan from Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings, Chinese media reported at the time.

It has a 60.9% share of the online movie ticketing market, according to the draft prospectus posted on the Hong Kong exchange website.

The firm also distributes Chinese-made films and sometimes assists in marketing foreign films in China, such as the 2017 romantic drama “The Shape of Water”, which won four Oscars.

China’s box office revenue rose 13.5% in 2017 to 55.9 billion yuan (US$8.2 billion), according to the official Xinhua News Agency, more than tripling its 2016 growth rate as foreign films won a larger share of ticket sales.

Maoyan Weying’s revenue doubled to 1.9 billion yuan in the first half of this year from 931.3 million yuan a year earlier, according to the draft prospectus.

The company’s loss widened to 231.2 million yuan (US$33.8 million) during that same period, from 117.6 million yuan in the first six months a year earlier.

Maoyan Weying planned to use the proceeds to fund acquisitions, investments, research and development and enrich its content offerings, the prospectus said.

Bank of America, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley are joint sponsors, while China Renaissance is the financial adviser.

Maoyan Weying, which reported 133.5 million monthly active users for the first half of 2018, is the latest Chinese online firm to seek funds through a share listing.

Meituan Dianping, an online food delivery-to-ticketing services provider, has launched a Hong Kong IPO of up to US$4.4 billion, that could value the company at up to US$55 billion, according to separate sources.

Its books were covered shortly after the launch on Tuesday, they added.