Chinese bike-rental firm Hello Inc has filed for an initial public offering in the US, Bloomberg reported, citing people with knowledge of the matter.
Why it matters: A survivor of China’s bike rental bubble, the Shanghai-based company is among the largest bike-rental firms in the country. If Hello successfully lists, it would be the first US-listed Chinese bike-rental company.
- Hello is signaling with the IPO—including the disclosures and accountability that come with a public listing—a shift to sustainable growth, following a backlash against bike-rental apps for breakneck but reckless expansion in earlier years.
- After multiple rounds of consolidation, China’s bike-rental market is now dominated by firms that are backed by deep-pocketed giants: Ant Group-backed Hello, Didi’s Qingju, and Meituan Bike, formerly Mobike.
- The company also operates electric bike-rental and ride-hailing businesses, all part of the “sharing economy” facing scrutiny as part of a broader regulatory tightening over China’s Big Tech.
Detail: The company chose to file confidentially with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, according to sources cited by Bloomberg, exercising an option that is becoming popular owing to the flexibility it allows for timing and pricing.
- Hello is working with China International Capital Corp., Credit Suisse Group AG, and Morgan Stanley for the listing, according to the report.
- The size of the targeted raise was not disclosed, though a previous IFR report said that the firm looks to raise as much as $1 billion, according to Bloomberg.
- A company spokesperson declined to comment on the matter when contacted by TechNode on Thursday morning.
- Hello had 400 million registered users as of October for its bike rental business which it operates in more than 460 cities. It rents out electric bikes in 400 cities and offers car ride-hailing services in over 300 cities.
- The company had 300 million registered users in 2019, when it said it was China’s largest two-wheel transportation app.
Context: Hello Inc. launched in 2016, two years after Mobike and Ofo, and quickly gained traction as the first bike-rental app to focus its business on China’s smaller cities.
- The firm, also known as Hellobike, Hello TransTech and Hello Global, merged with Shanghai-listed competitor Youon Bike in October 2017.
- In addition to Ant Group, the company is backed by top investors including Fosun Group, GGV Capital, and Shenzhen Venture Capital.
- Companies within the broader sharing economy in China earned more than RMB 3.38 trillion ($519.6 billion) in transactions in 2020.