Tencent-Backed China Literature Plans $1 Billion Hong Kong Stock Listing

By Alyssa Abkowitz Features Dow Jones Newswires

China Literature Ltd., a unit of Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings Ltd., is planning to sell around US$1 billion worth of shares in a Hong Kong listing.

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The company, which also counts private-equity firm Carlyle Group as a shareholder, is selling 151.37 million shares that are likely to price between HK$48 and HK$55 (US$6.15 to US$7.05) each, according to a term sheet from one of the banks involved in the initial public offering. A pricing at the top of the range would give China Literature a market valuation of over $6 billion.

Tencent currently owns 62% of China Literature, while Carlyle has a 12.2% stake. The company was formed in 2014 through a combination of Tencent Literature, which was launched in 2013, and Cloudary, a business Tencent later acquired. The shares being offered amount to roughly 16.7% of China Literature's enlarged share capital, according to the term sheet.

China Literature maintains an online library with 9.6 million stories from more than six million writers and boasts nearly 200 million monthly active users. Most of those users read books on mobile devices. The company earns fees when users pay small amounts for books after sampling the first few chapters free. About 6% of its active users currently pay at least once a month to read online.

The company generates some content from readers' comments and tries to engage users by offering audio Q&As with writers. China Literature also makes money by adapting its popular content into films, TV series or online games.

China Literature eked out a profit last year after losing money previously. It reported net income of 30.4 million yuan (US$4.6 million) in 2016, versus a 354.2 million yuan loss in 2015, according to a draft prospectus filed in Hong Kong. Revenues last year jumped 59% to 2.56 billion yuan.

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The stock sale is expected to wrap up on Oct. 31 and the shares could list on Nov. 8, according to an offering summary.

Write to Alyssa Abkowitz at alyssa.abkowitz@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 23, 2017 04:20 ET (08:20 GMT)