October 28, 2019 / 10:35 PM / 19 days ago

TikTok owner ByteDance says it has no immediate HK IPO plans, denies FT report

FILE PHOTO: A man holding a phone walks past a sign of Chinese company ByteDance's app TikTok, known locally as Douyin, at the International Artificial Products Expo in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China October 18, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

(Reuters) - ByteDance, which owns short-form video app TikTok, said on Tuesday it had no immediate plans for an initial public offering in Hong Kong, denying a Financial Times report that said it was looking to list as soon as the first quarter of next year.

The Financial Times reported the news earlier in the day citing two people briefed on plans.

“There is absolutely zero truth to the rumors that we plan to list in Hong Kong in Q1,” a spokesman for the company told Reuters in an email.

Four sources familiar with the company told Reuters that Bytedance’s plans to list publicly were not imminent.

The seven-year-old Chinese start-up posted a better-than-expected revenue for the first half of the year at over $7 billion and was valued at $78 billion late last year, separate sources have told Reuters.

That makes it one of the world’s most valuable unicorns - private firms worth $1 billion or more. Speculation that it has been considering an IPO has been rife since last year.

ByteDance has been put under the spotlight in recent weeks after U.S. senators raised concerns over its TikTok platform’s collection of user data and whether China censors content seen by U.S. users.

Facebook (FB.O) CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whose product competes with TikTok particularly for younger users, also attacked the app over censorship concerns.

TikTok says China does not have jurisdiction over the app’s content as the app does not operate in China and that it is not influenced by any foreign government, including that of China.

Reporting by Julie Zhu and Scott Murdoch in Hong Kong, Yingzhi Yang in Beijing and Bhargav Acharya in Bengaluru; Editing by Himani Sarkar

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