Kingsoft's long-delayed plans for an IPO have been dusted down again. The Beijing-based software company hopes to raise $100m from a listing in Hong Kong in the third quarter, according to the South China Post.
Kingsoft, which specialises in office software, security software and online games, originally planned an IPO on Nasdaq in 2004, which would have made it the first Chinese business software company to list overseas. That didn't happen, but the Nasdaq IPO plan was resurrected in 2005. Once again, nothing materialised.
Could it be third time lucky?
In opting for HK this time round, Kingsoft has decided against following rival online game companies such as Netease, Shanda and The9, which have listings in Nasdaq.
In an increasingly common argument, the Chinese company says that a Nasdaq listing is now too expensive, not just in fees but also because of the extra cost of complying with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which affects US companies and foreign companies with US listings.
Kingsoft is one of the few Chinese software companies that is known outside of the mainland. It once was dubbed the “Chinese Microsoft” and its English-Chinese dictionary program is widely used — and widely copied.
Partly because of the piracy problem, Kingsoft now focusses more on online games and anti-virus scanners — applications that need an internet connection to work and so their authenticity can be checked online.
According to a report last year from the Business Software Alliance, nine out of ten software programs in China are pirated, although levels are finally starting to fall.
More on Kingsoft in this EngagingChina story.