Chinese B2C e-commerce site 360Buy.com – also known as JingDong Mall – is reportedly prepping its papers for a US IPO submission next week. Reuters is saying tonight that 360Buy could raise $4 to 5 billion from an American stock market listing. That’d make it the biggest ever internet IPO.
360Buy is, by varying measures, the second or third biggest e-commerce site in China. It’s behind Alibaba’s Taobao.com and closer rival Dangdang (NYSE:DANG), which secured its US IPO in December of last year. 360Buy has quickly expanded its product scope in the past year, rushing into the 3C sector so as to secure early growth and not lose ground to Dangdang.com.
Is 360Buy ready to take to the biggest stage? Dangdang’s CEO, Li Guo-qing, might not think so. Last month he suggested:
360Buy is losing huge amounts of money on its sale of 3C. In terms of selling books, it is no match for Dangdang.
But a lack of profitability matched with worrying losses hasn’t stopped several other US IPOs for Chinese tech firms. Perhaps more importantly, 360Buy has some solid backing from the likes of WalMart and a major Russian investment group. Back in May of this year, my Penn Olson colleague reported that 360Buy was effectively valued at $10 billion by the extent of its Russian VC backing. Reuters figures suggest an even higher ultimate valuation.
The first half of 2012 is, reportedly, the timeframe for this cross-Atlantic IPO adventure. That’s both wise and sadly inevitable – the second half of this year is not looking too good. Only one Chinese firm (Tudou) went to the US last month. None are yet slated for September; some have recently cancelled plans, such as Shanda.
What’s next? 360Buy is rumored to be picking underwriters next week. Then, some time later, we’ll all get to peer into its SEC filings.