Who says all shareholders will be created equal on China’s hotly anticipated new high-tech board?
Not up-and-coming cloud services provider UCloud, which has become the first company to apply for a listing on the board using a dual-class share structure. Such structures are common in the U.S., but have been absent on the Chinese mainland’s major exchanges up until now.
They typically allow companies to issue different classes of stock, giving shareholders different levels of voting rights. The aim is to let top management maintain control while letting outside investors enjoy dividends of the company’s success.
UCloud, which has a market value of about 11.1 billion yuan ($1.65 billion), is the only dual-share candidate among the 28 companies whose applications have been accepted by the securities regulator for consideration for listings on the new board. According to that application, holders of UCloud’s Class-A shares would have five times the voting rights of holders of the other Class-B shares.
The company’s three co-founders currently hold nearly 27% of UCloud’s shares, but would retain control through their majority 65% voting rights.
UCloud’s three co-founders, CEO Li Xinhua, Chief Technology Officer Mo Xianfeng and Chief Operating Officer Hua Kun, previously worked together at internet giant Tencent from 2005 to 2009, before eventually teaming up to form UCloud in 2012. According to its prospectus, the company’s revenue grew 41% last year to 1.19 billion yuan. It became profitable in 2017, and last year posted a profit of about 80 million yuan.