Tencent-Backed Huohua Siwei Picks Banks for U.S. IPO

Chinese online education firm Huohua Siwei, backed by Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Kuaishou Technology, has picked banks to work on its U.S. initial public offering which could raise as much as $500 million, according to people familiar with the matter.

Huohua Siwei, or Spark Education in English, is working with Credit Suisse Group AG and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. on the proposed listing, the people said. The share sale could take place as soon as this year, said the people, asking not to be identified as the information is private.

Investor interest in the education technology sector has boomed in China and globally as more students turned to online learning in the wake of school closures and lockdowns due to the coronavirus outbreak. As a result, investors have shifted their attention to many of Asia’s online education startups, looking to capitalize on another beneficiary of the stay-at-home trend.

Huohua Siwei provides online education for children age 3 to 12 in China, according to its website. It counts several high-profile investors among its backers including Carlyle Group, Sequoia Capital China and IDG Capital, according to its official WeChat account. The startup raised $200 million in a series D+ round last April. It is also backed by larger education technology firm Yuanfudao, which hit a $15.5 billion valuation last year after raising $2.2 billion in two funding rounds.

Online tutoring platform Zhangmen, backed by Warburg Pincus, is also considering a U.S. IPO this year, Bloomberg News has reported.

Details of Huohua Siwei’s offering including size are still under discussion and could change, the people said. Representatives for Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs declined to comment, while a representative for Huohua Siwei didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

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