June 26, 2017 / 11:16 AM / in a month

Alibaba-backed Best Inc bets on China logistics boom with U.S. listing

4 Min Read

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Best Inc, a Chinese logistics company backed by Alibaba Group (BABA.N), said it aims to raise up to $750 million from an initial public offering in the United States, betting an e-commerce boom in China will spur demand for its package delivery services and supply chain technology.

The company founded by Johnny Chou, a former Greater China president of Alphabet Inc's (GOOGL.O) Google, said in a securities filing on Monday that it planned to raise the money by listing on the New York Stock Exchange or the Nasdaq. It did not disclose the number of shares it plans to sell or give an indicative price range for the offering. (bit.ly/2sI6hWO)

It follows a number of other Chinese logistics companies that have gone public recently. They include rivals S.F. Holding 002352.SZ, YTO Express (600233.SS) and STO Express 002468.SZ which listed in Chinese markets, and ZTO Express (ZTO.N), which raised $1.4 billion with a listing in the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in October.

Best Inc has yet to make a profit, and reported a net loss of 422.8 million yuan ($61.8 million) for the three months ended March 31, but its revenue more than doubled during the quarter to 3.25 billion yuan, led by an increase in its freight and express delivery business.

China is the world's biggest logistics market, with nearly $1.6 trillion in spending in 2015, and express delivery is forecast to jump 22.8 percent a year over 2016-2021 in terms of parcel volume, Best Inc said in the filing, citing forecasts from consulting firm iResearch.

The market for shipments with smaller trucks is expected to expand by 13.8 percent a year, and China's overall logistics market is forecast to grow by an average 2.1 percent a year from 2016-2021, according to iResearch.

In 2016, Hangzhou-based Best Inc derived about 60 percent of its 8.8 billion yuan in revenue from express delivery services, with another 18 percent from freight services with smaller trucks and 14 percent from supply chain management to corporate clients.

Alibaba is Best Inc's biggest shareholder with a 23.4 percent stake, followed by founder Chou with 14.7 percent. Private equity firm China Renaissance Capital Investment holds 11.3 percent of the company, while venture capital firm IDG-Accel China Capital has another 6.2 percent.

The company raised $750 million in September from a group of investors including CITIC Private Equity, Alibaba affiliate Cainiao Smart Logistics Network Ltd, China Development Bank International and Goldman Sachs.

Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan are the underwriters for the IPO.

The amount of money a company says it plans to raise in its first IPO filings is used to calculate registration fees. The final size of the IPO could be different. Thomson Reuters publication IFR previously reported that Best Inc's IPO could reach $1 billion.

Additional reporting by Aparajita Saxena in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Susan Fenton

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