Snapchat parent Snap sells 12% stake to Tencent
Bengaluru: Tencent Holdings Ltd now has a 12% stake in Snapchat operator Snap Inc, company filings showed on Wednesday, the latest in a string of major investments in the United States by China’s new tech heavyweights.
The details of the stake, revealed by Snapchat after badly received quarterly results, came as US and Chinese firms announced $9 billion in new deals on the arrival of President Donald Trump in Beijing.
It helped the US company recoup a slide of almost 20% in pre-trading in New York after it reported third-quarter revenue and user growth well below Wall Street expectations.
Snap shares recovered to trade down 12% at $13.29 in premarket trading from a close of $15.12 on Tuesday.
Snap’s largely privately owned structure, which reserves 95% of voting rights for its co-founders, made it likely Tencent was just accumulating a financial stake.
“While such news may be initially perceived as positive by the market, one has to remember that Tencent’s holdings in Snap is the non-voting Class A shares, which makes a possible acquisition of Snap by Tencent less likely,” said Morningstar analyst Ali Mogharabi.
Along with Alibaba and Baidu, Tencent has poured billions of cash from a decade of growth in China into buying US firms and holds 5% of electric car maker Tesla, as well as stakes in ride service company Lyft and augmented reality startup Magic Leap.
The largest social media and gaming company in China and owner of the popular mobile application WeChat, it had previously invested in Snap through an affiliate in 2013, and has been referred as a “role model” by Snap’s co-founder and chief executive Evan Spiegel.
Snap said in its quarterly report that Tencent had bought 145.8 million shares of its non-voting Class A common stock on the open market. Snap had about 1.2 billion shares outstanding, as of 31 October.
“The positive side of this could be that the two companies may create business partnership of some kind or Tencent may aid Snap in expanding its reach into China,” Morningstar’s Mogharabi said.
Unlike many US stock market-listed corporations, Snap is not obligated to disclose changes in Tencent’s ownership of Snap’s Class A stock. Snap said it had only received the details of the stake from Tencent this month and declined to answer further questions on the filing.
Snap, on Tuesday, reported third-quarter revenue and user growth well below Wall Street expectations, as it struggles to compete with Facebook Inc’s Instagram. The company has disappointed investors each quarter since it floated on the New York Stock Exchange in March.
Snap’s daily active users (DAU) stood at 178 million, below expectation of 181.8 million, according to research firm FactSet.
“As evidenced by China’s Tencent taking a 10% plus stake in Snap this morning, there is clear inherent value in the company’s about 180 million DAU, strong engagement numbers, and growing international social media platform,” GBH Tech Research analyst Dan Ives said. Reuters
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