- CEO Lei Jun speaks to reporters at opening of NPC meetings
- Lei says he wants Xiaomi's IPO to be a natural process
Xiaomi Corp. Chief Executive Officer Lei Jun said the Chinese handset maker, valued at $45 billion by a 2014 funding round, wasn’t planning a public listing “at the moment.”
Lei, speaking to reporters at the opening of the National People’s Congress in Beijing Saturday, said he wants Xiaomi’s initial public offering to be a natural process and noted that he is already the de facto controller of several publicly traded companies. While not ruling out a listing for Xiaomi, he said it would not be for “the time being.” Asked how he would define “time being,” Lei smiled without answering.
Xiaomi had been one of China’s most exciting startup stories of the past few years, after a fairy-tale run of growth that helped it secure $1.1 billion in 2014 from investors including GIC Pte., All-Stars Investment Ltd. and Russia’s DST. Its market share however has since been pinched by competitors including Huawei, the country’s leading brand in the fourth quarter.
Lei said Xiaomi was planing to produce a “high-end” smartphone. The company began selling a new phone model, the Mi5, this month priced at 1,999 yuan ($307).
Xiaomi sold more than 70 million smartphones last year, falling well short of an 80 million unit target and prompting Lei to tell employees he was refocusing research efforts into “cool stuff” like robotics and virtual reality. At the annual meeting of China’s legislature Saturday, Lei said he believes there will be another round of momentum for mobile-internet products and services and that the most-promising developments would be in rural areas as 4G networks expand and prices for higher-end smartphones fall.
Asked if Xiaomi was interested in making cars, a business that other Chinese technology companies such as Baidu Inc. have entered into, Lei said that they didn’t have such a plan at the moment.
— With assistance by Keith Zhai, Tian Ying, and Feifei Shen