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Xiaomi Share Launch Hit by Trade Woes

UPDATED: Xiaomi, the Chinese tech giant, made a muted launch on the Hong Kong stock market, where its shares began trading Monday. The launch came just three days after the U.S. kicked off a trade war with China.

Xiaomi’s shares dipped in early trading, hitting HK$16 in mid-morning trade, down nearly 6% from the HK$17 they had been sold at. By the noon lunch break, the price recovered to HK$16.98 per share, before closing at HK$16.8, a loss of 1.2%, on trading volume of $979 million (HK$7.68 billion).

The company’s lackluster trading start came despite the offer being scaled back and the shares priced at the lower end of their indicated range. Though still the second largest IPO this year, raising a net $3.1 billion (HK$24 billion), the company has a market capitalization of $48 billion (HK$376 billion). That is less than half the $100 billion figure which had been touted earlier this year.

Analysts criticized the company and its bankers for being over-ambitious, with some suggesting that the company does not have the qualities to justify a price-to-earnings valuation four times higher than Apple. Others likened it to cheap and cheerful Japanese retail chain Muji rather than a tech pioneer.

The company is one of the world’s largest smartphone makers, and additionally has growing ambitions in media and entertainment and in online retailing.

Other commentators were more forgiving of the company, and instead pointed to treacherous conditions in Asian stock markets. On Friday, the much-discussed U.S.-China trade war became real, with each of the two countries imposing tariffs on $34 billion of each other’s imported goods. And even after a 2% rise on Monday, the Shanghai Composite Index showed mainland Chinese shares in a bear market, with prices down more than 20% down from their peak in March.

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