Alibaba-backed Best jumps in debut after slashing IPO price

(Reuters) – Shares of Best Inc, a Chinese logistics firm backed by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, jumped in their market debut on Wednesday, a day after the company slashed its expected pricing range to stoke investor interest.

Best’s shares rose as much as 17.4 percent to a high of $11.74 in early trading, giving the company a market capitalization of about $4.33 billion.

The company’s initial public offering of $450 million was nearly half of what it had initially intended to raise, underscoring how some fast-growing companies may have to temper their expected valuations to lure investors burned by recent underperforming IPOs.

The offering was the biggest by a Chinese firm in the United States since rival express delivery firm ZTO Express Inc raised $1.4 billion in October. ZTO’s shares have traded below their IPO price since debuting and are down 22 percent from the listing price.

Best was banking on China’s booming logistics market to justify its valuation, but concerns over competition, along with rising fuel and labor costs prompted some investors to balk at its initial pricing.

Best, founded by former Google executive Johnny Chou, faces stiff competition from Chinese logistics firms such as S.F. Holding, YTO Express <600233.SS and STO Express 002468.SZ, all of which recently went public in China, the world’s biggest logistics market.

Best, in which Alibaba holds a 23.4 percent stake, sold 45 million American depositary shares for $10 a piece, the lower end of its $10 to $11 indicative range.

The company had initially expected a price range of $13 to $15 per ADS and an IPO consisting of 53.56 million new shares and 8.54 million existing shares.

Other Chinese companies that started trading in the United States on Wednesday include women-led biopharmaceutical company Zai Lab Ltd and Secoo Holding, an online retailer that sells used luxury brand items.

(Reporting By Aparajita Saxena in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)


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