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Ximalaya to go public via merger with SPAC backed by former Alibaba.com CEO

  • First ever Hong Kong de-SPAC merger to be valued up to USD 2.5bn
  • Deal announcement expected before end of first half 2023

Chinese podcasting unicorn Ximalaya is going public in Hong Kong through a merger with Vision Deal HK Acquisition Corp [HKG:7827], a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) vehicle controlled by former Alibaba.com Chief Executive Wei Zhe, according to three sources familiar with the situation. 

The transaction is likely to be valued around USD 2.3bn-USD 2.5bn, with the final amount subject to further discussions, they said.

Talks have come to an advanced stage, with a sales and purchase agreement expected to be signed before the end of June, they added. 

Should the deal come to fruition, it would be the first ever de-SPAC transaction for Hong Kong-listed blank cheque entities, they said. 

Vision Deal is in talks with institutional investors about a private investment in public equity (PIPE) fundraising worth at least HKD 750m (USD 95.6m), two of the sources said.

Vision Deal, which raised HKD 1bn in its IPO that was arranged by Citi and Haitong International, debuted on the Hong Kong exchange in June 2022. 

Among the few Hong Kong-listed SPACs, Vision Deal was considered as the likeliest one to seal an acquisition in the first half of 2023, this news service reported in March. Its promoters include DealGlobe and Opus Capital, the listing prospectus shows.

The other Hong Kong listed SPACs are: Primavera Capital’s Interra Acquisition [HKG: 7801], CMB International‘s Aquila Acquisition [HKG: 7836], former Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) chief Norman Chan’s HK Acquisition [HKG: 7841] as well as CNCB Capital’s TechStar Acquisition [HKG: 7855].

Ximalaya: third time is the charm? 

Founded in 2012, Ximalaya is one of the biggest radio content sharing platforms in China, having produced over 340m pieces of audio content across 101 categories, according to its website.

Ximalaya has been working on an IPO for years. In early 2021, it filed a US listing but eventually withdrew in the same year. 

It swiftly switched the targeted listing venue to Hong Kong with assistance from Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and CICC, filing a listing application to Hong Kong stock exchange (HKEX) in September 2021. The application has lapsed, according to data on the exchange.

As of 2021, it had worked with 13.5m content creators, with around 268m monthly active users, according to its website. 

The company reported a net loss of CNY 759m on a revenue of CNY 5.9bn for the financial year of 2021, as its last IPO prospectus disclosed.

No contact details could be found for Vision Deal and Wei Zhe in the public domain. Ximalaya, DealGlobe and Opus Capital did not return to requests for comment.