Sunday 20 October 2019

'China's Apple' Xiaomi lifts share-trade ban


Electronics company Xiaomi is one of the stars of the Chinese tech world
Electronics company Xiaomi is one of the stars of the Chinese tech world

Sofia Horta e Costa

Many Xiaomi investors, who could only watch as the stock shed $14bn in market value, are now able to join in on the selling after a lockup period expired yesterday.

The six-month term followed its Hong Kong debut, during which some employees and cornerstone investors were banned from disposing of their allocated shares.

It's been painful: Xiaomi has dropped to HK$10.34 from a listing price of HK$17, losing another 6.9pc yesterday on almost seven times its average volume of the past three months.

More than three billion shares were unlocked, equal to about 19pc of those outstanding, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The lockup period for controlling shareholders - such as chairman and founder Lei Jun - was extended yesterday for another 365 days, Xiaomi said in a statement. It was previously due to expire in July.

Touted by bankers last year as China's answer to Apple, Beijing-based Xiaomi sought a valuation that would have made it the most expensive smartphone maker in the world. The stock trades at 16 times projected 12-month earnings, less than half its July multiple. It's still 32pc more expensive than Apple, which is reeling from its worst quarterly rout in more than a decade.

To be sure, longer-term investors may want to hold on to Xiaomi's shares rather than dump them at a loss. Analysts still predict Xiaomi will rebound to $16.72 on average within the next year. Hedge funds have been increasing their bearish bets, with almost 30 million shares sold short on Tuesday, the most since August.

Xiaomi attracted the likes of China Mobile and US wireless-chip giant Qualcomm as cornerstone investors last year.



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