Chinese Search-Based Travel Firm Qunar Posts High-Flying IPO

24/7 Wall St.

Qunar Cayman Islands Ltd. (QUNR) is the most popular search-based commerce platform for China’s travel industry in the Middle Kingdom. The company held its initial public offering (IPO) on Friday, selling 11.11 million American Depositary Shares (ADS) at an IPO price of $15 per ADS, above the prospective range of $12 to $14. Each ADS is equal to three Class B ordinary shares.

The shares opened at more than $30 but have pulled back somewhat by the noon hour. The IPO’s underwriters have a 30-day option on an additional 1.67 million ADSes.

According to Qunar’s amended Form F-1 filing, holders of the company’s Class A stock will get three votes for every share they hold while Class B shareholders get one vote per share. David Broderman, founding partner of TPG Capital, has agreed to acquire $5 million in Class B shares in conjunction with the offering through an affiliated company called Jaguarundi Partners LLC.

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Baidu Inc. (BIDU), China’s largest search engine provider, paid $306 million in July 2011 for a majority stake in Qunar. The company conducts part of its business through a variable interest entity (VIE) which the company controls through contractual agreements, not through equity ownership. Baidu and Qunar’s co-founder and CEO control the VIE. Baidu’s voting power in Qunar after today’s IPO will be 58.82%.

Net proceeds of around $137 million will be used invest in Qunar’s technology, infrastructure and product development, expansion of the company’s sales and marketing efforts, and general corporate purposes, including working capital and potential acquisitions.

The company has not reported a profit in any of the last three fiscal years and has posted a net loss of $2.76 million for the first six months of 2013. Revenues in 2012 totaled $81.5 million and for the first six months of this year total $58.5 million.

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Shares of Qunar are trading up 89% at $2840 in the early afternoon on Friday after hitting a peak of $34.99 earlier in the day.

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