Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

China Startup Juwai Seeks IPO in Australia as Early as 2016

  • Juwai raising funds from institutional investors before IPO
  • Company plans to use funds to hire talent, boost presence, a property search engine that lists real estate around the world for Chinese buyers, is seeking to go public in Australia as early as this year.

The firm is raising funds from institutional investors and strategic partners before selling shares in a public offering at the end of the year or in early 2017, Charles Pittar, chief executive officer of Juwai, said in an interview in Tokyo Friday. He declined to provide additional details such as the planned size of the offering.

“The listing is important for our growth,” said Pittar, who was appointed as CEO of Juwai earlier this year.

Chinese buyers have been stocking up on property overseas as their wealth has surged, helping to boost real estate prices in cities including Sydney, New York and Tokyo. Outbound real estate investment more than doubled to $35 billion in 2015 from $15 billion a year earlier, according to the latest estimate by Knight Frank LLP. Juwai, based in Hong Kong and Shanghai, has 2 million unique visitors per month and means “Living Abroad.” It connects Chinese buyers with brokers overseas through 2.5 million listings on its website.

Juwai’s users have a budget of $2.6 million on average, according to the company’s presentation materials. Even so, they tend to prefer homes with prices ranging from $500,000 to $1.5 million, Pittar said.

Juwai plans to use the funds raised to hire talent around the world to boost its presence, said Pittar, who previously served as chief operating officer at Juwai before being appointed CEO. Before joining Juwai, he was COO of Asia for Australia’s Macquarie Bank Ltd.

While outbound investment has gained in recent years, the outlook for 2016 may be hard to predict, according to David Ji, head of research and consultancy for Greater China at Knight Frank. Chinese outward property investment with a transaction value exceeding $2.5 million may be at a similar level as in 2015, given the uncertainties in the Chinese market, he said.

Separately, Juwai is close to announcing an alliance with a partner in Japan in coming weeks, Pittar said, declining to elaborate.

(A previous version of the story was corrected to fix an erroneous year in the headline.)

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.