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SenseTime approved for potential $2B facial recognition IPO in Hong Kong

SenseTime approved for potential $2B facial recognition IPO in Hong Kong

SenseTime has been approved for an initial public offering on the Hong Kong stock exchange that could bring in up between $1 billion and $2 billion to fuel the expansion of its facial recognition and other artificial intelligence capabilities.

South China Morning Post refers to SenseTime as China’s largest AI company, and notes that its software was used by more than 2,400 customers as of mid-2021. Company filings also show that it supplies AI technology to more than half of the Fortune 500, and has more than 8,000 AI patents granted or pending.

Despite continued momentum including impressive accuracy in NIST’s facial recognition tests, the company lost 3.7 billion yuan (US$579 million) in the first half of 2021, following net losses each year since 2018.

China International Capital Corporation (CICC), Haitong and HSBC are SenseTime’s joint underwriters for the IPO, according to Bloomberg.

The approval comes as China’s cybersecurity regulator is considering requiring national security reviews of companies from the mainland seeking a Hong Kong listing, which may be motivating SenseTime to complete the process before the end of the year.

The company also sought a legal opinion that sanctions against SenseTime for supplying biometric technology in service of government repression in Xinjiang only apply to one of its business units in preparation for the listing.

SenseTime is reportedly planning to begin assessing demand for the IPO as soon as next week.

The company’s road to an IPO has included at least one false start and was reportedly considered for a joint listing that would have included Shanghai’s STAR market.

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