Alibaba-backed Best Inc raises $450 mln in IPO after slashing terms

HONG KONG, Sept 20 (Reuters) – Chinese logistics firm Best Inc priced its U.S. initial public offering at the bottom of expectations, raising $450 million after it revised terms of the deal to cope with tepid investor demand.

Up to $932 million had originally been expected for the listing, 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 stock has traded below its IPO price since debuting and is down 22 percent from the listing price.

Best, which is backed by Alibaba Group, priced 45 million American depository shares (ADS) at $10 each, the bottom of a $10 to $11 indicative range, Thomson Reuters publication IFR said on Wednesday, citing people familiar with the deal.

Best declined to comment on the IPO pricing when contacted by Reuters.

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.

The revised IPO one day before its market debut suggested weak investor enthusiasm for the original terms. The slump in ZTO’s share price also prompted some investors to balk at Best’s initial pricing, a person close to the deal told Reuters.

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

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

Best reported a net loss of 623.8 million yuan ($94.9 million) for the six months ended June 30. Total revenue rose 133.5 percent to 8.10 billion yuan, driven by its freight and express delivery business.

Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba, led by Jack Ma, holds a 23.4 percent stake in Best. ($1 = 6.5760 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by Fiona Lau of IFR; Additional reporting by Aparajita Saxena in Bengaluru and Elzio Barreto in Hong Kong; Editing by Sai Sachin Ravikumar and Stephen Coates)

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