SenseTime Relaunches $767 Million Hong Kong IPO After US Investment Ban

By Dorothy Li
Dorothy Li
Dorothy Li
Dorothy Li is a reporter for The Epoch Times based in Europe.
December 20, 2021 Updated: December 20, 2021

Chinese artificial intelligence (AI) firm SenseTime Group said on Dec. 20 that it will relaunch the $767 million Hong Kong ($98.3 million) initial public offering a week after the United States bans American investment in the company.

SenseTime kept its target of selling 1.5 billion shares at a price between HK$3.85 ($0.49) and $HK3.99 ($0.51) each, according to its revised filings to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. The final offer price will be set on Dec. 23.

The company’s trading debut is due to start on Dec. 30, the company said in the filing.

SenseTime had previously planned to start trading on Dec. 17, but was derailed due to U.S. sanctions. The United States put an investment ban on U.S. investment in the company on Dec. 10 for its role in developing facial recognition software used in the communist regime’s suppression of Uyghur Muslims.

Over one million Uyghur and other Muslim minorities have been incarcerated in internment camps in China’s far-western Xinjiang region, where they have been subjected to forced sterilization, torture, forced labor, and political indoctrination. The United States and other Western democracies have labeled Beijing’s actions a genocide.

Epoch Times Photo
School children walk past surveillance cameras in Akto, south of Kashgar, in China’s western Xinjiang region on June 4, 2019. (Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images)

The company denied the accusation on Monday.

SenseTime said its inclusion on the U.S. blacklist did not affect its business operations, but added the resulting lack of U.S. investors could impede its ability to raise funds and reduce trading liquidity.

Five of the nine cornerstone investors have been replaced after the U.S. sanctions. According to Monday’s filings, the biggest new investor is the Shanghai Xuhui Capital Investment Co. which is backed by the local government of Xuhui District in Shanghai.

The AI start-up will rely on cornerstone investors to buy about $511 million ($65.5 million), or around 67 percent of shares. It was increased from $450 million ($57.7 million), or 58 percent, of subscriptions previously.

SenseTime has already been barred from buying or using U.S. technology or components after the Trump administration put it on the U.S. Department of Commerce’s “entity list” in 2019 for the same reason.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Dorothy Li
Dorothy Li is a reporter for The Epoch Times based in Europe.