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Live-streaming firm DouYu, backed by tech giant Tencent, files for US$500m US IPO

Rapid growth in the live-streaming sector could boost DouYu's chances of IPO success

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A girl broadcasts live from a phone as she holds a selfie stick with a sign of the live-streaming platform DouYu, in Wuhan, China. Most of DouYu's revenues come from live-streaming through the sale of virtual gifts, accounting for 86.1 per cent of its revenues.

Hong Kong

CHINA'S largest live-streaming platform DouYu International Holdings Limited, backed by social media and gaming giant Tencent Holdings Ltd, has filed for a US initial public offering (IPO) of up to US$500 million.

DouYu, which primarily focuses on the live-streaming of games, is one of several Chinese startups in the growing market for live-streaming in China, along with US-listed rival Huya Inc and Huajiao.

The rapid growth of the live-streaming sector has seen China's tech heavyweights - Tencent, Alibaba Group Holding and Baidu Inc - open their wallets to back a slew of firms in the hope it can boost existing services in e-commerce, social networking and gaming.

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DouYu has exclusive streaming rights to 29 major tournaments in China, including League of Legends, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, and DOTA2, according to the draft prospectus which was uploaded to the US Securities and Exchange Commission website overnight on Monday.

DouYu was the largest game-streaming platform by average total monthly active users (MAUs) on both mobile and PC during the fourth quarter of 2018, according to the prospectus.

The company had 159.2 million MAUs in the first quarter of 2019, representing year-on-year growth of 25.7 per cent.

It set a placeholder sum of US$500 million for the IPO, which is used to calculate registration fees. The final IPO size could be different, though sources have previously told Reuters DouYu was looking to raise around US$500 million.

DouYu's IPO could be one of the largest this year by a Chinese company in the United States, together with that of Starbucks challenger Luckin Coffee which also filed overnight (See story below).

Chinese companies have raised US$271 million through US IPOs so far this year, with the biggest deal being that of Ruhnn Holding Limited which raised US$125 million, Refinitiv data showed.

China is the world's largest game-streaming market, with approximately 4.9 times the monthly active users of the US market in 2018, the prospectus said.

DouYu's active users spent an average of 54 minutes per day on the platform in the fourth quarter of 2018.

DouYu is still loss-making and reported a net loss of US$127.4 million in 2018, up from US$91.33 million in 2017. Revenues jumped 94 per cent to US$531.5 million last year.

The company significantly increased its sales and marketing expenses - which jumped 73 per cent in 2018 - as well as its research and development expenses which increased 55 per cent.

Most of DouYu's revenues come from live-streaming through the sale of virtual gifts, accounting for 86.1 per cent of its revenues, with the rest coming from advertisements and some revenue sharing with game developers and publishers, the prospectus showed.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch, JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley are the underwriters for DouYu's IPO. REUTERS