April 21, 2011 12:53 pm

Chinese dating site files for US listing

Jiayuan.com, China’s largest online dating service, plans to raise up to $100m in an initial public offering in the US.

The matchmaker on Thursday applied to list on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol DATE, joining a growing queue of Chinese internet companies eager to cash in on strong investor demand.

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Qihoo 360 Technology, China’s leading provider of free antivirus software, defied market jitters and raised $175m immediately after Japan was hit by an earthquake last month. Its share price more than doubled on the first day of trading.

Seven Chinese companies have raised a total of $572m from IPOs in the US so far this year, according to data provider Dealogic. They include Qihoo 360 and 21Vianet Group, a company that runs internet data centres.

The year got off to a slow start compared with 2010, when 39 Chinese companies raised $4bn from US listings. Apart from Jiayuan, three other Chinese companies have filed to list in the US: Tudou, the online video site that plans to raise $120m from an IPO delayed since late last year; China Zenix Auto, a steel wheel maker, wants to raise $250m; and Renren, the social networking site modelled after Facebook, plans to start trading on May 4 and is expected raise $584m.

Bankers on Thursday said there was a pipeline of larger Chinese IPOs, especially from the internet sector, coming next year.

Renren’s rival Kaixin 001 has hired Citigroup and JPMorgan for its planned US listing, also expected this year. “And the really big ones will come next year,” said one banker. He said Taobao, the consumer e-commerce subsidiary of Alibaba Group, and Lashou, China’s largest group buying site, were both likely to go public in 2012 and expected to raise more than $1bn.

According to Jiayuan’s prospectus, the dating site had revenues of just $25m last year and it made a net loss of $1.3m.

The company started monetising its online dating service in 2008 by taking fees from members for the messages they exchange with prospective dates.

Le Xiaotian is one of the 4.7m people who regularly use the site. The 26-year-old wrote in his profile that he had a technical college education and made between Rmb2,000 and Rmb5,000 a month. He was 162cm tall and his Chinese horoscope was the rat.

“You get tired after walking alone for too long,” he wrote. “Sitting in the sun with you on winter afternoons, serving you a cup of steaming hot green tea, growing old together with the person you love, is there anything happier than that?”

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