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Taiwan rapper blasts Citigroup, Deutsche for shelved startup IPO

Jeffrey Huang's M17 Entertainment has opted to raise US$35m in a private fundraising round instead

Hong Kong

JEFFREY Huang, the veteran rapper who pioneered Taiwan's hip-hop scene, publicly lashed out at two investment banks after his tech startup shelved its US initial public offering (IPO).

M17 Entertainment Ltd, the live-streaming platform that Huang co-founded, said in a statement dated Wednesday it's deferring its listing due to unspecified "settlement issues" with some investors. In a post on his verified Facebook page, Huang used a four-letter expletive to express his displeasure with Citigroup Inc and Deutsche Bank AG, the lead underwriters of the sale.

The Facebook post, which was visible late afternoon local time Wednesday, had been removed by that evening. Huang didn't specify what he believed the banks did wrong. Representatives for Citigroup and Deutsche Bank declined to comment.

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Huang rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange on June 7, the day M17's shares were slated to begin trading. The Taipei-based company had earlier said it was pricing its IPO below the marketed range to raise about US$60 million. The trading debut was postponed, and M17 announced several days later it was halting the deal.

M17 has opted to raise US$35 million in a private fundraising round from new and existing investors, including Infinity Venture Partners and Global Grand Capital, it said in Wednesday's statement. The new capital, which will be used for expansion in Japan and other markets, will allow M17 to retain its flexibility as a private company, according to the statement.

"We are very appreciative of our investors for providing the additional capital," M17's group chief financial officer Koo Shang-hsiu said in response to Bloomberg queries Thursday. "Also wanted to thank the entire deal team for their hard work. However, given the delay, we felt it was best to remain private near-term and focus on growing our business."

The listing would have added to the US$3.8 billion in US IPOs of Asian companies this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. A representative for NYSE declined to comment. M17's Mr Koo said Huang has no further comments at this time.

Huang, 45, began his entertainment career in the early 1990s and founded his own music label in 2003. The artiste, who is M17's non-executive chairman, was a member of Taiwanese music groups LA Boyz and Machi and has released more than 15 albums. He owns a 17.3 per cent stake in M17, according to its IPO prospectus.

M17's live-streaming platform, which launched in 2015, had an average of one million monthly active users in the quarter ended March, the prospectus shows. The company also runs a Tinder-like dating app called Paktor and provides offline matchmaking services in Singapore and Taiwan. BLOOMBERG