BUSINESS Group CEO: Hong Kong secondary listing a natural choice

BUSINESS Group CEO: Hong Kong secondary listing a natural choice


19:57, April 19, 2021 Group celebrated its secondary listing on Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing at its Shanghai headquarters, April 19, 2021. Photo: CGTN Group, the largest online travel agency in China, debuted in Hong Kong on Monday, following the company's Nasdaq listing in 2003.

The parent company of booking sites, Ctrip, Qunar, and Skyscanner, Group is the latest among 14 U.S.-listed Chinese firms to have sought secondary listings in Hong Kong since 2018.

Its Hong Kong shares rose 4.5 percent from the issue price of HK$268 ($34.49) apiece at market close. The travel group is expected to raise approximately HK$8.33 billion in the debut based on its issue price.

"I think it's pretty natural for us to be listed in Hong Kong because investors in the region are more familiar with our brand and business," said James Liang, co-founder and executive chairman of the Group. He added that the choice was not possible 20 years ago due to regulatory reasons.

The Chinese online travel giant denied speculations on it might delist from Nasdaq due to rising China-U.S. tensions and the coronavirus impact, citing that there isn't much change regarding the regulating environment in the U.S.

The company reported a loss of more than $500 million in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It announced that its domestic business has fully recovered, and even achieved positive growth compared to the pre-COVID level in the last few months.

"For the upcoming May Day holiday, we're seeing record numbers of travelers in terms of hotel bookings and also our transportation business," said Liang.

The company pointed to its fast-growing market share in long-haul traveling, adding that it's considering global reach among its core competencies.

With regards to criticisms that online travel agencies have been using big data to price products to the disadvantage of existing customers, James Liang said it is not the case with Group.

"Though prices do change according to time and the various channels, on our platform, it's usually the experienced or the loyal customers that get a better price," said Liang.

Founded in 1999, Group is one of the largest travel service providers in the world with over 400 million users.

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