What’s Up: Week of January 26th

Electric-vehicle firm Faraday Future to go public via $3.4 billion SPAC deal

Faraday Future will merge with Property Solutions Acquisition Corp to value the combined entity at $3.4 billion, reports Reuters. It becomes the latest electric-vehicle firm to go public. Other prominent players in the sector, such as Fisker and Nikola, also went public through mergers with so-called special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) last year.

Chinese automaker Geely is set to be an anchor investor in the private placement. Faraday plans to set up a new base in China and enlist Geely for contract manufacturing services.

Significant Chinese involvement could be an early policy test for U.S. President Joe Biden’s new administration, given Washington’s escalating concerns over national security implications of China’s technological ascendance.

Faraday Future was founded in 2014 by former chief executive officer Jia Yueting, who filed for bankruptcy in October 2019 and planned to turn over his stake to repay around $2 billion in personal debts. Yueting is now serving as the chief product and ecosystem officer at the company. The combined company will be listed on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol “FFIE,” the companies said.

Polish locker company InPost worth 9.5 billion euros  

Polish parcel locker firm InPost shares jumped 19%, valuing the company which benefited from online shopping during the pandemic lockdowns at 9.5 billion euros ($11.55 billion), reports Reuters. 

The parcel business is widely used in Poland by sellers on the online commerce platform Allegro, which debuted on the Warsaw bourse in October with one of the largest IPOs in Europe. IPOs had picked up in Europe this year after a quiet 2020 when the spread of COVID-19 wreaked havoc on economies and led to stock market volatility.

InPost announced its Amsterdam IPO plans in January. The company’s books were covered just hours after the offer started, with the price set at the top of the range at 16 euro per share.

InPost, which owns over 12,000 parcel lockers, also operates in the U.K. and plans to expand in Italy, France, and Spain due to increased competition in Poland. The company picked Amsterdam for its listing to reflect its international expansion plans.

Webinar marketing platform ON24 seeks $2.22 billion valuation in IPO

Goldman Sachs Group Inc-backed webinar marketing platform ON24 Inc aims for a valuation of about $2.22 billion in its initial public offering (IPO), reports Reuters. The platform looks to cash in on continued investor appetite for tech listings.

ON24, which allows people to create webinars and host virtual events on its platform, would sell about 8.6 million shares priced between $45 and $50 apiece, looking to raise up to $430 million at the upper end of the range. ON24’s IPO comes as U.S. capital markets gear up for another banner year for stock market launches.

ON24 said “one or more” funds affiliated with U.S. investment firm Tiger Global Management have indicated an interest in buying up to an aggregate of $75 million in shares in the offering.

Goldman Sachs invested $25 million in ON24 in early 2019. 

TikTok rival Kuaishou to raise up to $6.3 billion in Hong Kong IPO

Chinese live-streaming and short video group Kuaishou is set to raise up to $6.3 billion in a Hong Kong initial public offering, reports the Financial Times. It will test an investor appetite for China’s tech sector as it faces growing regulatory scrutiny. The deal could value Kuaishou, which competes with ByteDance’s TikTok, at up to $61.7 billion and would be the largest tech IPO since ride-hailing company Uber went to market in 2019. 

Shares are expected to begin trading on February 5. The flotation comes as Chinese tech companies face an increasingly uncertain regulatory environment. The $37 billion Hong Kong and Shanghai IPO of payments firm Ant Group was halted by Beijing at the last minute in November, while its e-commerce affiliate Alibaba is subject to an antitrust investigation. Kuaishou, which is backed by Chinese internet group Tencent, reported an operating loss of $1.4 billion in sales during the first nine months of last year. The major part of sales comes from virtual gifts, which users buy for a few cents to US$ 309. Livestreaming rules announced in November ban teenagers from purchasing virtual gifts on platforms such as Kuaishou and limit total spending by any single user. The regulations also tighten controls on live streaming e-commerce, where video hosts promote goods to shoppers, a growing business for Kuaishou.

Kuaishou’s app had about 262 million daily viewers in the first nine months of last year, who on average spent 86 minutes per day watching videos. The company has spent heavily on bringing in new users as it faces an increasingly crowded online video market in China. Kuaishou has hired Bank of America, China Renaissance, and Morgan Stanley to work on the IPO.