China Literature Ltd, the online literature-focused arm of the mainland's tech conglomerate Tencent Holdings Ltd, reportedly plans to seek a listing approval in a hearing with the Hong Kong stock exchange this week, making a move closer to its scheduled IPO that is expected to raise $600 million to $800 million.
According to the report by Thomson Reuters publication IFR, insiders close to the deal said if approved, China Literature would arrange premarketing next week.
Last Friday, Tencent said in an official announcement that shareholders will be entitled to apply for China Literature IPO shares to the preferential offering on Oct 20. The register of members of the company will be closed on that date and no transfer of shares will be registered on the same day, according to the announcement.
Earlier this year, Tencent said it would spin off China Literature and list the e-book publisher in Hong Kong. It would seek to hold at least 50 percent of China Literature's shares after the spinoff and the offering will consist of 15 percent of the company's enlarged share capital.
The move also marks Tencent's ambition to monetize the potential in the booming online literature trend.
Statistics from the iResearch Consulting Group show that an increasing number of Chinese now prefer to read e-books on mobile devices rather than PCs. It said 265 million Chinese read e-books via mobile devices, and 217 million will read e-books on PCs.
"Reading is no longer confined by time and space. We're now entering a brand new age to embrace the online reading trend," said Zhu Jing, vice-president of China Literature.
The online publishing subsidiary said it had 5.3 million writers and 8.4 million literary works at the end of 2016. In December 2016, it boasted 175.3 million monthly active users across the company's platform products and the self-operated channels on partner distribution platforms.
Last year, the revenue of China Literature hit 2.6 billion yuan ($393 million), up by 59.1 percent from 1.6 billion yuan in 2015. And it also saw a significant jump of the gross profits to 1.1 billion yuan last year, with an 81.7 percent year-on-year increase.
"Online literature will become the mainstream in the future," Dong Qianqiu, general manager of the literature division at iQiyi.com Inc, said during an annual entertainment conference in early June. "The internet not only works simply as a medium but appears fashionable, trendy. With more than 300 million users who love reading digital literature, the market is worth 10 billion yuan in China."