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China's Baidu picks CLSA, Goldman for Hong Kong listing

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Nasdaq-listed Baidu plans to sell shares in Hong Kong as soon as the first half of this year, sources say. The offering could raise at least US$3.5 billion based on its latest market value of US$70 billion.

Hong Kong

CHINESE search engine giant Baidu Inc has selected CLSA Ltd and Goldman Sachs Group Inc for its planned second listing in Hong Kong, which could raise at least US$3.5 billion, said people familiar with the matter.

Nasdaq-listed Baidu plans to sell shares in the Asian financial hub as soon as the first half of this year, the sources said, asking not to be identified as the information is not public.

The company could sell about 5-9 per cent of its share capital. This means that the offering could raise at least US$3.5 billion based on its latest market value of almost US$70 billion.

More banks could be added, and details of the offering including timing and size are subject to change, the sources said. Representatives for CLSA and Goldman Sachs declined to comment, while a representative for Baidu had no immediate comment.

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Baidu joins a wave of US-listed Chinese enterprises in seeking a trading foothold in Hong Kong amid simmering tensions between the world's two biggest economies.

Companies from JD.com Inc to NetEase Inc raised about US$17 billion through share sales in the city last year, showed data compiled by Bloomberg.

The past week has been a whirlwind for Chinese companies trading on American exchanges.

The New York Stock Exchange reversed course twice on a decision to delist three Chinese telecommunications companies, while the Trump administration is now considering barring investments in the Asian nation's two most valuable companies: Alibaba Group Holding and Tencent Holdings.

While questions remain on how the incoming Biden administration will deal with China, a second listing in Hong Kong allows Chinese companies to expand their investor base and acts as a hedge against potential delisting.

US President Donald Trump has already signed legislation that could kick firms off American exchanges unless US regulators can review their financial audits, an issue that has remained unresolved between China and the US for over a decade.

Baidu has been seeking to catch up in the heated area of online entertainment, with its core search app morphing into a platform hosting a wide array of content from articles to videos.

Late last year, it agreed to buy Joyy Inc's livestreaming business for China for about US$3.6 billion. Its Netflix-style iQiyi Inc competes with services run by Tencent and Alibaba. BLOOMBERG

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