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Short seller Kerrisdale goes long on 'The Robinhood of China'

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By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK, Feb 2 (Reuters) - Sahm Adrangi, whose Kerrisdale Capital cemented its reputation with successful bets against Chinese internet companies, came out with a long position in Beijing-based UP Fintech Holdings Ltd on Tuesday, calling it "The Robinhood of China."

Adrangi's Kerrisdale, which manages approximately $500 million as of February 2020, gained 25% last year, an investor in the fund said. The fund rose to fame about a decade ago for shorting Chinese companies traded in the United States that he viewed as fraudulent.

Shares of UP Fintech rose to a session high of $21.99, their highest since April 2019, after Kerrisdale's note and were last trading up 10.37% at $20.64.

In the note, Kerrisdale pointed out UP Fintech is the holding company of Tiger Brokers, "which we believe is positioned to become the Robinhood of China" and pointed to the similar user profile with tech-savvy millennials as 72% of Tiger's customers are under 35-years old.

In addition, the service makes it easier for Chinese citizens to invest in prominent companies such as Alibaba and NIO Inc which "ordinary Chinese citizens have historically had difficulty getting access to."

While online brokerage players such as E*Trade, acquired by Morgan Stanley in October and TD Ameritrade, which was acquired by Charles Schwab, also in October, have established large footholds in the market, Kerrisdale points out Robinhood was still able to "carve out a sizable niche for itself with its low fees, user-friendly design and mobile-first approach."

Government mobility restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic have helped fuel a surge in online trading, as Robinhood's app recorded more downloads than any other U.S. trading app last week despite concerns about its restrictions on transactions.

That has also helped fuel spectacular surges and drops in stocks that have been favored in groups on social media network Reddit, such as Gamestop and AMC Entertainment Holdings .

While other noted short sellers such as Andrew Left of Citron Research have recently said they will no longer publish short-selling research, Kerrisdale disclosed a short on Plug Power Inc on Jan. 20. (Additional reporting by Svea Herbst; Editing by David Gregorio)