(Bloomberg) — Billionaire Xiaomi Corp. co-founder Lei Jun and Joyy Inc. Chairman David Li plan to take Joyy private in a deal that could value the livestreaming giant at up to $8 billion, Reuters reported, citing three unidentified people familiar with the matter.
Joyy’s shares surged more than 15% in pre-market trading in New York on the news. Lei and Li, the company’s two biggest shareholders, are leading a consortium that’s offering $75 to $100 a share for the streaming service, Reuters reported, at least 33% above the stock’s latest close. The consortium has approached banks for financing and aimed to secure loans backed by Joyy’s $4.9 billion of cash and cash equivalents, it added.
The pair of tycoons may be seeking to take advantage of a selloff that’s wiped out more than $1 trillion of value off China’s tech giants, triggered by a regulatory crackdown that’s expanded beyond online commerce to ensnare a plethora of industries from ride-hailing to media. Beijing’s campaign to rein in its giant internet industry is into its 10th month, a roller-coaster ordeal that’s prompting nervous investors to ponder the longer-term ramifications of a crackdown on firms from Jack Ma’s Ant Group Co. and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. to food delivery giant Meituan and ride-hailing leader Didi Global Inc.
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Joyy and rivals from Kuaishou Technology to Bilibili Inc. got caught up in the selloff after state-backed media urged tighter regulation of internet video, part of a clampdown on media intended in part to root out undesirable content and dissent.
Lei and Li plan to take control of Joyy, then spin off and list its Bigo division in Asia, likely in Hong Kong, Reuters cited one of the people as saying. Representatives for the company weren’t immediately available for comment.
Joyy is one of the pioneers of Chinese livestreaming, a format that’s since taken off around the world and is employed in everything from peddling products to informing farmers of the weather. In 2020, it announced a deal to sell its YY Chinese business to search giant Baidu Inc. for $3.6 billion. The transaction awaits a green light from the country’s antitrust regulator, Reuters reported. Days after the announcement, short-seller Muddy Waters accused Joyy of inflating its metrics, though the company has denounced those allegations as misguided.
Read more: China’s Joyy Accuses Muddy Waters Report of ‘Ignorance’
(Updates with details on financing from the second paragraph)
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