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Netease aims to raise $2-$3 billion in Hong Kong listing

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HONG KONG (Reuters) – Chinese tech group Netease Inc aims to raise between $2 and $3 billion in one of the largest equity deals so far this year when it launches a secondary listing in Hong Kong on Monday, said three people familiar with the transaction.

The offering from the Chinese online gaming company is expected to be one of several large secondary listings in the city this year, as rising tension between the United States and China have led Washington to question whether Chinese companies should be able to list in New York.

Netease will start the institutional book build on Monday and the retail offering will run until the end of the week, the sources told Reuters. They asked not to be named as the information has not been made public.

Netease declined to comment on the listing process.

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In its filings to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, Netease said one potential risk for investors was proposed U.S. legislation that could force some Chinese companies to delist if their auditor had failed to comply with U.S. audit oversight for three years.

Netease is only the second company to launch a secondary listing in Hong Kong, following Alibaba in 2019, under a rule change in the city that finally allowed U.S.-listed Chinese groups to seek a secondary listing.

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JD.com is expected to follow Netease, with plans to list on June 18 and could raise up to $3 billion by selling down 5% of its shares, Reuters has reported..

Netease’s deal will be Hong Kong’s largest listing so far in 2020, according to Refinitiv data, and one of the largest in the world, depending on the final size.

It comes as market activity is picking up again globally. On Friday, coffee maker JDE Peet raised 2.25 billion euros ($2.50 billion) in its Amsterdam debut, while Warner Music is due to price its offering of up to $1.8 billion in New York on Tuesday.

Earlier this year, Asia had hosted the largest deals, with Beijing-Shanghai High Speed Railway raising $4.4 billion in China early in January and Thailand’s Central Retail taking $2.52 billion in February in Bangkok.

Companies have raised $36.9 billion in IPOs so far this year, down 32.1% from the same period last year, Refinitiv data showed.

Reporting by Scott Murdoch, Kane Wu and Julie Zhu; Editing by Jennifer Hughes and William Mallard

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