(Yicai Global) April 19 -- Ninebot has applied to list on Shanghai's Sci-Tech Innovation Board, making the Cayman Islands-registered smart transportation equipment maker the first red chip applicant.
Red chips companies are mainland Chinese firms that are incorporated outside the country. The purpose of red chips is to go public and gain financing overseas through foreign shareholding companies.
Ninebot was not only the first overseas-registered company to apply but also the first that aims to issue Chinese Depository Receipt shares among the applicants. The Beijing-based firm also uses a Variable Interest Entities structure, meaning that an investor has a controlling interest despite not having a majority of voting rights.
Red chips were normally required to break the VIE structure when returning to China's A-share market in the past and become domestic-funded, which usually comes at a high cost.
"A company needs to pay 10 percent to 25 percent of corporate income tax just to change from a foreign-funded structure to one that is domestic-funded," according to an employee from a legal firm that represents firms going public. "So, any failure to go public on the A-share market will cost too much and using the CDRs is a much better option."
The company's plan shows that the new board can attract firms from the new economy, Fu Lichun, director at Northeast Securities, told Yicai Global. "Regulators are still improving supporting laws, regulations and systems, and returning red chips' will definitely encounter various difficulties but they will gradually be resolved."
The domestic capital market has not seen any listing through CDRs, so the outcome of future trading activity, price decision mechanism, and investors' interest remain largely uncertain. Ninebot's fate will set an example for others to follow, he added.
Founded in 2014, Ninebot, produces smart electric Segways, electric scooters and service bots.
Ninebot's shareholders include Sequoia Capital with 16.8 percent. Intel also holds 3.3 percent and China Mobile Innovation Industry Fund, Future Industry, State Development & Investment are also investors. Shen Nanpeng, global managing partner at Sequoia, served as a director of the firm.
Editor: William Clegg