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China’s biometrics unicorns on the move as CloudWalk applies for $573M IPO

Megvii takes stake in country’s second credit agency


Chinese face biometrics and artificial intelligence solutions provider CloudWalk is working towards initial public offering on the Shanghai stock exchange that is expected to raise 3.75 billion yuan (roughly US$573 million), DealStreetAsia reports.

The state-backed company has filed a prospectus with the Shanghai Securities Regulatory Bureau with plans to list to the Star market, which Yitu has likewise been reported to be planning an IPO on.

CloudWalk has reported revenue jumping from 65 million yuan ($10 million) in 2017 to 807 million yuan ($123.6 million) in 2019, before booking 221 million yuan ($33.8 million) in the first half of this year, according to Equal Ocean. The company’s net losses also ballooned over the same time frame, however, reaching a whopping 1.708 billion yuan ($261.6 million) last year, which Equal Ocean attributes to a change in their stock’s fair value from recognizing preferred stocks.

The company invests heavily in research and development, and had five R&D centers operating as of mid-2020.

Another of China’s AI unicorns, Megvii, withdrew its listing application from the Hong Kong Exchange earlier this year.

Megvii is also a partner in China’s second personal credit agency, along with JD.com and Xiaomi subsidiaries, and an investment arm of the Beijing Municipal government, after the Central Bank granted approval for the new body’s establishment.

Reuters reports that the new agency is called Pudao Credit Rating Co Ltd, and it will be registered with 1 billion yuan in Beijing.

The central bank has been attempting to coordinate more effective credit information between institutions to reduce excess borrowing and fraud, according to the report. Baihang Credit was the first agency launched to meet this need, in 2018.

Megvii will hold a 17.5 percent stake in Pudao Credit.

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