Chinese online travel services giant Ctrip, owned by Trip.com Group Limited, is reportedly in talks with a number of investors to fund its delisting from the NASDAQ by taking it private. The move comes as tensions between China and the United States continue to escalate, adding significant risks to its already struggling operations that had been battered by the coronavirus pandemic.
The company, which owns online travel agencies such as Skyscanner, Qunar, and Trip.com, has reportedly reached out to a number of strategic investors such as private equity firms and tech companies for a potential take-private deal. According to sources with knowledge in the matter, discussions regarding the deal are still in the early stages, which means that it could still be subject to change at any time.
The operations of China's largest online travel services company, which has a market capitalization of more than $16.5 billion, had greatly been affected by the pandemic and the ensuing travel demand slump over the past few quarters.
Since the start of the year, Ctrip's U.S. share prices have dropped by more than 17 percent. The drop was mostly caused by the massive decline in the company's ability to generate profits in the previous quarters. For its first quarter this year, the company reported a net loss of $754 million after a 42 percent year-on-year decline in its revenues due to the outbreak.
Given the recent escalation in tensions between China and the United States, Ctrip likely wants to cut its losses in the U.S. capital markets by delisting its stock and taking its business private.
The escalation in tensions, along with the tighter scrutiny on Chinese companies listed in the U.S., a number of Chinese firms have already abandoned their U.S. listing, with most now choosing to list closer to home. Major tech firms such as Alibaba, NetEase, and JD.com have already launched secondary listings in Chinese exchanges to reduce their exposure to the geopolitical turmoil.
Meanwhile, at least six U.S.-listed Chinese companies have announced plans to go private in order to remove their listings from U.S. exchanges. According to Refinitiv data, the six companies would result in over $9.1 billion in capital being removed from U.S. capital markets.
On Monday, Tencent Holdings reportedly made an offer to buy out the rest of the shares it did not own of web search firm Soguo in a deal estimated to be worth $3.5 billion. Other firms that have reportedly started to layout plans for a U.S. delisting include Chinese search engine giant Baidu.
A separate source claims that both Baidu and Ctrip are in preliminary talks with the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEX), Hong Kong's stock exchange operator, for possible secondary listings.