SHEIN finally files for IPO, but valuation remains under wraps

Years after rumours of a potential SHEIN listing began to swirl, the Chinese fast-fashion juggernaut has finally filed its IPO application in the US, major outlets reported on November 29. The company was last valued at 66 billion USD and could be trading on public markets as early as 2024.

Reuters calls the IPO application a “major test for investor appetite” after four major stock market debuts, including from German sandal-maker Birkenstock and British chip designer Arm Holdings, ended up disappointing investors last month.

According to the Guardian, the listing is likely to be the largest IPO in years, although its final value has not yet been disclosed. SHEIN has made a confidential filing, meaning it can make any tweaks to the paperwork in private over the next few months before finally going public.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission, which will handle the application, may press SHEIN on a number of issues, including allegations of forced labour and plagiarism, which could make a successful launch more challenging.

The value of the listing has been the subject of ongoing debate between SHEIN and its advisors. In 2022, SHEIN was valued at a staggering 100 billion USD, making it the world’s third most valuable start-up that year after ByteDance (140 billion USD) and SpaceX (125 billion USD).

This figure was later intentionally downgraded to 66 billion USD as SHEIN opted for a more conservative approach after tech share prices took a huge hit. Based on the most recent reports from Bloomberg, SHEIN is now hoping to fetch 80-90 billion.

Even if it launches an IPO at that lower valuation, it will be the biggest Chinese company to go public since 2021, when ride-hailing service Didi Global listed for 68 billion USD. Had the IPO launch of Ant Group, Alibaba’s fintech affiliate, not been scuppered by Chinese regulators’ anxiety, it would have dwarfed both SHEIN and Didi at a valuation of 313 billion USD (although this listing was set to be in Shanghai or Hong Kong, not New York).

The most valuable China-founded company to go public in the US is still e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, which debuted in 2014 at a valuation of 231 billion USD.


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