Tarena International, a Chinese education company backed by Goldman Sachs Group Inc., is preparing an initial public offering after hiring NQ Mobile Inc.’s former chief financial officer, said three people with knowledge of the matter.
Tarena, which provides training for software engineers, plans to go public as early as next year, said two of the people, who asked not to be named as the plans are private. The company may sell shares in the U.S., one person said.
Suhai Ji said he joined Tarena as CFO after his September departure from NQ, the Chinese maker of mobile security software that plunged in U.S. trading last month following a critical report by Muddy Waters LLC.
Five Chinese firms have completed U.S. IPOs this year, rallying an average 51 percent weighted by deal size from their offer prices, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. In the past two weeks, travel-booking service Qunar Cayman Islands Ltd. and online marketplace 58.Com Inc. jumped on their trading debuts after selling shares above marketed price ranges.
NQ’s share price has plummeted by more than half since research firm Muddy Waters on Oct. 24 published an 81-page report labeling the Beijing-based company a “massive fraud.”
Ji declined to comment on details of Tarena’s IPO plans, saying the company is in a “quiet period.” Responding to questions in an e-mail last week, Ji said his departure from NQ had “nothing do to” with the Muddy Waters report.
Beijing-based Tarena hired Ji in part because of his involvement in NQ’s listing on the New York Stock Exchange, according to two of the people. Shares of NQ, which raised $89.1 million in its 2011 IPO, more than doubled to as high as $24.92 last month before the Muddy Waters report was released.
NQ responded to Muddy Waters’ allegations by releasing data on its bank deposits and holding a two-hour conference call with investors. The company said on Nov. 1 that an independent special committee hired lawyers to review the short seller’s allegations. NQ’s co-Chief Executive Officer Omar Khan called Muddy Waters’ claim that NQ will delist within a year “absurd.”
Ji joined NQ Mobile in November 2010, ahead of its U.S. listing in May 2011, according to the company’s IPO prospectus. He was previously a director in NYSE Euronext’s Beijing representative office and an investment banker at Deutsche Bank AG in Hong Kong, the prospectus shows.
Goldman Sachs invested $20 million in Tarena, according to the training company’s website. IDG Capital Partners, a China-focused venture capital firm, also invested in the company, according to IDG’s website.
Tarena, founded in 2001, provides training in Java programming, game development, data mining and other IT skills, according to its website. It runs about 100 training centers in more than 30 Chinese cities including Beijing and Shanghai.
The company’s home page boasts recruitment of its graduates by the biggest Chinese Internet companies, including Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.
Alibaba, China’s biggest e-commerce operator, is planning an IPO for next year, people familiar with the matter said last month. The company has been valued at as much as $190 billion by Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.
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