Imaginechina, via Associated Press
HONG KONG — For users of Meitu’s signature app, a beautiful touch-up at the press of a button is free.
But Meitu is hoping that investors in the company, which wants to “make the world a more beautiful place,” will value it somewhere between $4.6 billion and $5.23 billion.
Meitu plans to offer shares at between 8.5 Hong Kong dollars and 9.6 Hong Kong dollars, raising $629 million to $710 million.
The company is known for its eponymous selfie app, which allows users to digitally alter their photos, as well as its livestreaming app, Meipai. It also makes smartphones, designed to improve selfie-taking, which are endorsed by the Chinese actress Angelababy.
The share listing will offer a rare gauge of whether global investors agree with the sky-high valuations often found in China’s tech start-up scene. Venture capitalists and private investors have leapt into the field, which has given rise to successful app- and gadget-makers amid an e-commerce and financial technology boom.
But many of China’s hottest start-ups have been snapped up by its three major internet companies — the e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, the social media and gaming conglomerate Tencent Holdings and the search provider Baidu — before they go public. That leaves it unclear whether the high valuations of many Chinese start-ups can be sustained.
The Hong Kong Exchange has not seen a technology offering of this size in nearly a decade. The biggest previous I.P.O. of this type was Alibaba’s listing of its business-to-business e-commerce unit in 2007, in which it raised $1.7 billion, according to data from Dealogic.
In general, 2016 has been a quieter year globally for listings. ZTO Express, a Chinese delivery company whose growth was underpinned by its links with Alibaba, raised $1.4 billion when it listed on the New York Stock Exchange in October. Line, the Japanese messaging company, raised about $1.3 billion in July.
Meitu said in a news release that it planned to use the proceeds from the offering to expand its smartphone business, buy or invest in other businesses and bolster its marketing.
“Through growing our user base and enhancing users’ engagement in a cost-efficient manner, we are determined to develop Meitu as a portfolio of innovative photo and community apps so as to retain and attract more business partners to our ecosystem — which could ultimately contribute to our revenue,” Cai Wensheng, the founder of the company, said in a news release.
The company has a variety of beauty-focused apps with about 456 million users, but most of its revenue comes from selling smartphones in China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.
Shares are expected to start trading on Dec. 15.
The offering is sponsored by Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse and China Merchants Securities.