Sina goes private after 21 years on Nasdaq

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  • Sina launched China’s first blog platform in 2005 and soon became one of the country’s most popular social media platforms, before the company introduced the more popular Weibo in 2009.

Sina’s shareholders agreed for the company to be privatized by New Wave Holdings Limited in September 2020, at a price of $2.6 billion, or $43.30 per share. The company will be renamed Sina Group Holdings.

  • New Wave is a company registered in the British Virgin Islands and controlled by Sina’s chairman, Charles Chao (曹国伟 Cáo Guówěi). Chao, a Chinese-American businessman born in Shanghai, joined Sina in 1999 after receiving a master’s degree in journalism and an M.B.A. in the U.S., and worked in business consulting for six years. He led the launch and then the New York IPO of Weibo, Sina’s most successful social media product so far.
  • The privatisation deal was controversial, and analysts have pointed out the offer “seemed to significantly undervalue its stake in Weibo.”

Sina Group inherits a 44.9% equity stake in Weibo and 71% voting control, and intends to remain Weibo’s principal shareholder, according to an internal memo written by Chao (in Chinese).

  • “The privatization of Sina is not the end of an era, but we use a new structure to better develop our future,” said Chao in the memo.
  • Weibo remains listed on Nasdaq (WB).
  • Weibo is one of China’s largest social media platforms, with 523 million active users (as of December 2020).

Sina’s privatization comes at a time of rising U.S.-China tensions, with many Chinese companies considering alternatives to U.S. capital markets.

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