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Qihoo 360 may relist in China after private offer

CHINESE Internet security firm Qihoo 360 has received an offer from its founder Zhou Hongyi and other investors to take the NYSE-listed company private in a likely plan to relist back in China, they said yesterday.

Zhou, CITIC Securities, China Renaissance and Sequoia Capital offered to purchase Qihoo 360’s outstanding shares at US$51.33, or 77 per American Depository Share.

In an internal e-mail sent yesterday, Zhou said he decided to take Qihoo 360 private after “repeatedly reviewing the circumstances of overseas and China’s capital markets.”

Shares of the Beijing-based Internet firm, which went public in the New York Stock Exchange in 2011, rose nearly 6 percent yesterday morning to US$71.84 and is valued at US$8.9 billion.

Zhou said Qihoo 360’s leading position in China’s Internet market is not fully priced in its current market capitalization.

Qihoo 360 is the latest of a several Chinese companies listed overseas that are keen to relist back in China, where an ongoing stock rally and initial public offering reforms have increased the appeal of the domestic stock market for Chinese firms.

Another technology company, Beijing Baofeng Technologies, has seen its shares rise to the daily limit of 10 percent for 28 days straight after its IPO on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange in March. The firm previously planned to go public in the US.

The State Council, China’s Cabinet, also said on Tuesday that it is exploring ways to make it easier for China’s Internet and tech startups to list in Shanghai and Shenzhen and is mulling a new board at the Shanghai bourse for firms in emerging industries.

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