Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg

China's Top Anime Streaming Site Is Said to Plan IPO in U.S.

  • Bilibili prepares to sell shares in New York next year
  • Animation streaming site plans to seek at least $200 million

Bilibili, China’s top online platform for streaming Japanese animation, is planning a U.S. initial public offering that could raise at least $200 million, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The website operator aims to list in New York as soon as next year, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private. Bilibili hosts anime titles including “Boruto: Naruto Next Generations,” based on a sequel to the New York Times bestselling manga series about ninjas that teleport across dimensions.

U.S. first-time share sales from Chinese companies have already raised $1.3 billion this year, nearly triple the same period in 2016, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Four of the five such deals this year over $100 million are trading above offer price, including last month’s IPO from Zai Lab Ltd., which has risen 71 percent, the data show.

Baidu Inc.’s iQiyi unit is targeting a U.S. offering as soon as next year in a deal that could value the online video service at more than $8 billion, people familiar with the matter said last month. The unit agreed to a licensing deal with Netflix Inc. earlier this year that covers television dramas, animated series, documentaries and variety shows.

Bilibili has acquired more new Japanese anime titles than any other platform in China, beating Tencent Holdings Ltd. and iQiyi, according to a report from consultancy IResearch. The site has licensed more than 300 new Japanese titles from January 2015 through July this year, the report shows.

The size and timing of any offering could change, the people said. A representative for Bilibili declined to comment.

Chen Rui, a founder of Chinese smartphone software developer Cheetah Mobile Inc., invested in Bilibili and has been its chairman since 2014. Bilibili owns a license to show popular Japanese animated drama “Your Name” in China. The cartoon about a boy and a girl who swap bodies in their sleep was Japan’s top-grossing film last year, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com.

Bilibili has invested in about 20 Japanese anime productions since 2015, the company said in an emailed statement. Its site also shows Chinese-produced animation and hosts user-uploaded content. The company’s revenue model includes advertising and pay-per-view subscriptions.

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