FirstFT: ByteDance revives IPO plan

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ByteDance updates

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ByteDance, the owner of short-video app TikTok, has revived a plan to go public despite a widening regulatory assault targeting Chinese technology companies, aiming for a Hong Kong listing by early next year.

The Chinese group, which raised about $5bn in December at a $180bn valuation, is planning to list in either the fourth quarter of this year or early 2022, said three people with knowledge of the company’s plans.

After postponing its overseas listing this year, ByteDance has spent the past few months addressing Chinese regulators’ data security concerns, one of the people said, including providing more detail to authorities on how it stores and manages consumer information.

“We are expecting final guidance from ByteDance in September. They are submitting all the filings with Chinese authorities right now and are going through the review process,” the person added. ByteDance declined to comment.

People familiar with ByteDance’s plans cautioned that the company’s next steps could still change given the rapidly evolving regulatory environment for Chinese tech groups. TikTok rival Kuaishou’s stock plummeted almost 12 per cent on Friday after state media urged stricter regulation of internet videos.

Thanks for reading. What would you like to see more of in FirstFT Asia? Reach me at emily.goldberg@ft.com to share your feedback on the newsletter. — Emily 

Five more stories in the news

1. Latvia warns of risk of ‘incident’ between Nato and Russia The “weaponisation” of migration by Belarus on its border with Lithuania risks “misunderstandings, some actions that are not approved by superiors” when Russia’s Zapad military exercise takes place next month, said Latvia’s foreign minister.

2. Taliban seizes ground across Afghanistan The Taliban continues to gain territory in its violent campaign for control of the country, stoking strong criticism of the Biden administration’s decision to withdraw US troops at the end of this month.

3. Lionel Messi bids farewell to Barcelona The star footballer, failing to hold back tears at a press conference in Barcelona, confirmed on Sunday that he is leaving FC Barcelona, where he has spent his entire career, and said Paris Saint-Germain could be his next move.

Lionel Messi  © Eric Alonso/Getty Images
‘My blood ran cold’, Lionel Messi said on hearing that he would have to leave Barcelona © Eric Alonso/Getty Images

4. Saudi Aramco explores raising production capacity The group is using the rise in oil prices to reduce leverage and invest in production capacity, bucking the trend among international rivals to raise returns to shareholders. The state-backed company maintained its dividend at $18.8bn in the second quarter even as net income almost quadrupled from the same period last year.

5. India offers Cairn Energy refund after scrapping tax law New Delhi expects to refund $1bn to the UK-based group after it moved to scrap a retrospective tax law. The upper house of parliament is expected to approve the draft law as soon as this week, cancelling a 2012 policy that enabled the country to tax some foreign investments retrospectively.

Tokyo Olympics round-up

Olympic games in Tokyo
A late medals surge left US at top of table at the close of the Games, narrowly beating China © Toby Melville/Reuters
  • The Tokyo Olympics have officially closed — Japan handed the Olympic flame to Paris at the closing ceremony yesterday.

  • China finished second in the total medal count, with 38 to the US’s 39, But excess nationalism may overshadow its achievements.

  • Japan bested the United States to win their first Olympic gold medal in baseball.

  • Record-breaking running performances prompted questions over the athletes’ shoes to the track itself, as well as the effectiveness of doping control.

  • Two Belarusian coaches who allegedly tried to force Krystsina Tsimanouskaya on a flight have had their accreditation rescinded. (FT, AP, Guardian)

Coronavirus digest

  • Vietnam’s record surge of Covid-19 infections has forced shut clothing and footwear factories, sending global brands looking for back-up suppliers.

  • Australia’s remote Northern Territory has emerged as a favoured television production location as lockdowns have put major cities off limits.

  • Human rights campaigners have criticised Sri Lanka’s police for indiscriminately killing and abusing citizens under cover of the Covid-19 pandemic measures.

  • Rupert Murdoch’s Sky News Australia faces a parliamentary inquiry for posting videos on YouTube that breached the streaming company’s Covid-19 misinformation policy. (FT)

Sign up for our Coronavirus Business Update newsletter and follow our live blog for the latest.

The days ahead

China consumer and producer price index data When figures are released today, economists predict China’s consumer-price index will drop 0.8 per cent year-on-year because of plunging pork prices. The producer price index, however, is expected to remain elevated after the country’s PPI rose at its highest pace in more than a decade in May. (WSJ)

UN climate change report The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is due to publish a report on the physical science basis of climate change on Monday. Leslie Hook, FT’s environment and clean energy correspondent, notes three specific areas of the report where companies would be well served to take note.

NY State judiciary committee meets The committee will meet Monday as this week’s deadline approaches for Andrew Cuomo and his lawyers to submit evidence for the governor’s defence in a State Assembly investigation into his alleged sexual harassment of numerous women. One of the women who filed a criminal complaint against Cuomo will speak publicly for the first time Monday. (NYT, Reuters)

  • Go deeper: Meet Letitia James, the New York attorney-general fighting for the state’s underdogs. Her office last week released the results of a five-month investigation into allegations of sexual harassment against the governor. 

What else we’re reading

Why Asian-Americans are embracing a common identity The US is seeing a wave of Asian-American activism rolling across the country, propelled by individuals seeking to forge a coherent political and social movement from citizens who trace their heritage to such disparate countries as China, Vietnam, India and Bangladesh, among many others.

Why Xi is cracking down on gaming and private tutors China’s new restrictions reflect Beijing’s desire to maintain social control, but they also provide a window on to the strains of urban life. The move, however, exacerbates another sensitive policy for Beijing: rising youth unemployment, experts have warned.

  • Related read: After rising from poverty to lead one of the world’s biggest education groups, Yu Minhong, China’s “Godfather of education”, faces an existential test.

Netherlands grapples with soaring house prices Prices of existing homes in the Netherlands rose 14.6 per cent in the year to June, the highest rate for two decades — and one of the highest in the EU. And low-paid people often have to wait more than 15 years for social housing, while homeless numbers have doubled in the past decade. Read more in our series on soaring global housing prices.

Line chart of Annual % change (quarterly data) showing Netherlands outpaces EU-wide house price growth

Business travel will not recover any time soon, but so what? Covid has exposed a great unspoken truth about business travel: a lot of it was done for reasons that had nothing to do with business, writes Pilita Clark.

“The pandemic has a habit of turning predictions to dust, but if business travel recovers to anything like what it was any time soon, I will be seriously surprised.”

Gym industry gets back into financial shape For months, finding a spot in fitness studios in big cities like New York, London and Los Angeles had been relatively easy. But that has changed as coronavirus vaccination campaigns in the US and Europe advance. The recovery has been strong enough to attract new investors

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