Exclusive: Weibo chairman, state firm plan to take China’s Twitter private – sources

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The booth of Sina Weibo is pictured at the Beijing International Cultural and Creative Industry Expo, in Beijing, China May 29, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer/Files

July 6, 2021

By Julie Zhu and Pei Li

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Weibo Corp chairman Charles Chao and a state investor are in talks to take the Chinese company private in a deal which would value the Twitter-like firm at at least $20 billion and facilitate major shareholder Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s exit, two sources said.

Chao, whose holding company New Wave is the largest shareholder of Weibo, is teaming up with a Shanghai-based state firm to form a consortium for the deal, said the sources and a separate person, who have direct knowledge of the matter.

The identity of the state firm could not immediately be determined.

New Wave held a 45% stake in Weibo as of February valued at $5.6 billion as per the stock’s Friday price, followed by Alibaba with 30% worth $3.7 billion, according to the company’s 2020 annual report.

The consortium looks to offer about $90-$100 per share to take Weibo private, two of the sources told Reuters, representing a premium of 80%-100% to the share’s $50 average price over the past month.

Privatising China’s largest microblogging platform would pave the way for second largest shareholder and top customer Alibaba to sell out, disposing of one of its key media assets, the sources noted.

The sources declined to be identified due to confidentiality constraints.

Chao did not respond to a Reuters request for comment made via Weibo’s parent Sina.

Weibo and Alibaba also did not respond to requests for comment.

(Reporting by Julie Zhu and Pei Li in Hong Kong; editing by Sumeet Chatterjee and Jason Neely)





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