Instead of seeking an IPO overseas like many in its field, UBTech Robotics, the Shenzhen-based manufacturer of human-like robots backed by Tencent, is planning its IPO in the new tech board in Shanghai.
The board was launched in Shanghai last month, with more relaxed listing requirements than other Chinese exchanges. More than 100 tech companies have applied to list, aiming to raise US$16 billion in total. But large companies are yet to come.
The seven-year-old robotics company focuses on service robots, mostly used as educational toys and in the services industry to help shoppers, travelers and football fans for navigation. Its star product, Jimu robot series, allows kids to engage in STEM learning (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) by building and coding the robot on their own. Partnership include a deal with the Manchester City football club.
If the IPO came through in Shanghai, UBTech will bring a breakthrough for the Chinese stock market which has been struggling to attract big tech companies including Tencent and Alibaba. . It is the first robotics company in China to reach unicorn status: after raising US$820 million in May last year, UBTech was valued at US$5 billion.
Unlike CloudMinds and many other tech companies, the company is profitable. It recently changed its corporate structure to prepare for the IPO, which is very likely to be in the mainland market, but no final decision has been made, according to a senior executive, Michael Tam.