News & Analysis

Stock volatility as Chinese giant Didi takes America by storm in $80 billion IPO

Andrew Saks, Thursday, 1 July 2021


Whatever the personal view is on Chinese companies muscling in on Western markets with large-scale service-led companies that rival or disrupt the travel or delivery market, it is one of those unfortunate scenarios within a free market, increasingly global world.

In the West, Chinese firms have begun to rival Western household names such as Deliveroo and Uber, whereas the Chinese government bans many firms from the free world from entering the ironically named People's Republic.

The latest example of this is Didi, which is a Chinese 'vehicle for hire' company headquartered in Beijing with over 550 million users and tens of millions of drivers.

The company provides app-based transportation services, including taxi hailing, private car hailing, social ride-sharing and bike sharing; on-demand delivery services; and automobile services, including sales, leasing, financing, maintenance, fleet operation, electric vehicle charging and co-development of vehicles with automobile manufacturers, therefore positioning itself as a slightly more comprehensive version of Uber.

Didi's expansionist remit led it to enter the global market, and in doing so, it completed an Initial Public Offering (IPO) on the New York Stock Exchange, with its stock price soaring to an astonishing market value of $80 billion (!!!!) on its first day of trading.

That is an eye-watering market value which has caused many of the top tech firms which have released high value IPOs over the course of the past few years to pale into insignificance in the way that only a huge Chinese company can.

Today, however, just one day after its incredible debut, Didi's stock has taken a downward direction, closing yesterday down considerably, and having declined 13.73% during the course of today.

That, whichever way it is looked at, is a lot, especially considering the huge market valuation as Didi's stock hit the market.

To formulate its IPO, Didi sold 316.8 million American Depository Shares (ADS), versus the planned 288 million, at $14 apiece, giving it an initial value of $73 billion.

The decision to increase the deal size came after the Didi investor order book was oversubscribed multiple times in the advent of its flotation yesterday on the New York Stock Exchange.

According to Reuters, investors initially baulked at the $100 billion target given concerns the company's future growth prospects could be curbed by the chance of greater regulation of the ride-sharing sector by transport authorities in the future.

Didi's listing, which will be the biggest US share sale by a Chinese company since Alibaba raised $25 billion in 2014, represents a very concerning deluge of competition for companies such as Uber and Lyft, both of which are home-grown American publicly listed companies, and also poses a degree of competition against the new trend for susbcribing to cars rather than owning them.

Perhaps rather unsurprisingly, Didi, which was founded in 2012 in Beijing, was established by former Alibaba employee Will Wei Cheng who is Didi's current CEO.

If there is one thing Alibaba knows how to do, it is to create pseudo-monopolies in certain logistics sectors globally. Google and Amazon consider it a genuine rival, and it is not even an American company.

Another strength that Alibaba has demonstrated is its ability to attract Chinese government-controlled venture capital investors, and on that score Didi has followed suit. Its investors include Tencent which owns and operates WeChat, Softbank and believe it or not, Uber Technologies.

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

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