April 13, 2024

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Chinese Startup Meicai Picks Banks for Hong Kong IPO

(Bloomberg) — Meicai, a Chinese startup that connects restaurants with vegetable producers, has picked banks for its proposed Hong Kong initial public offering, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

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The Beijing-based company has selected China International Capital Corp., Citigroup Inc. and Nomura Holdings Inc. to work on the first-time share sale, the people said. Meicai could raise $300 million to $500 million, they said, asking not to be identified as the information is private.

The produce supplier started preparations for a Hong Kong IPO, Bloomberg News reported in July, joining Chinese firms such as Lalamove and Xiaohongshu in shifting such plans away from the U.S. amid Beijing’s crackdown on overseas listings.

Deliberations are ongoing and details such as timing and fundraising size could change, said the people. Representatives for Citigroup, Meicai and Nomura declined to comment, while a representative for CICC didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

The potential listing comes as Chinese regulators step up their scrutiny of companies going public outside the mainland. A rule that requires certain technology companies seeking listings abroad to undergo a stringent cybersecurity review could now be extended to those planning IPOs in Hong Kong as well, according to a draft regulation published Sunday by the Cybersecurity Administration of China.

Meicai — whose name means “beautiful vegetable” in Chinese — was founded in 2014 by rocket scientist Liu Chuanjun. Using a smartphone app, restaurant owners in China can order fresh produce directly from farms, cutting out middlemen. Meicai said it serviced more than 2 million restaurants in over 300 Chinese cities as of the end of 2020. The company counts Tiger Global Management, Hillhouse Capital and GGV Capital among its backers.

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