Chinese chat app Momo gets buyout offer from CEO

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 23, 2015 10:01 AM

(Reuters) - Chinese mobile chat app company Momo Inc received a takeover offer from Chief Executive Yan Tang and a group of investment firms valuing the company at $3.6 billion, six months after the company listed in the United States.

Momo, which helps users find friends based on locations and exchange messages, pictures and videos, is the latest in a string of Chinese tech companies that have received proposals to drop their U.S. listings and take them private.

Security software company Qihoo 360 Technology Co Ltd received a $10.06 billion buyout offer from its CEO last week.

Many Chinese tech executives are betting on higher share valuations in China, where stock markets have recently rallied.

Momo's CEO and the buyout consortium already own about 47 percent of the company.

The offer of $18.90 per American depositary share represents a premium of 20.50 percent to Momo's Monday closing price.

Momo's shares were trading at $17.64 minutes after the opening bell on Tuesday.

The company, which is backed by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, went public last December at a time when its chief executive was mired in allegations of misconduct and corruption.

Tang faced allegations of stealing information and technology from former employer NetEase Inc, where he was a senior executive from 2003 to 2011.

Since the listing, the stock had jumped more than 16 percent through Monday.

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Momo, which had 78.1 million monthly active users in March, generates revenue mainly from membership fees and through advertisements, mobile games and paid emoticons.

The deal value is based on 377.8 million outstanding shares as of March 31, according to Thomson Reuters data. Each ADS has two ordinary shares.

The investment firms involved in the deal are Matrix Partners China II Hong Kong Ltd, Sequoia Capital China Investment Management LP and Huatai Ruilian Fund Management Co Ltd.

(Reporting by Kshitiz Goliya and Abhirup Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)