China-founded online fast-fashion retailer Shein to file IPO in London: UK media reports

A Shein pop-up store in Ottawa, Canada. Photo: Reuters

Fast-fashion retailer Shein, which thrives on a business model that sells budget made-in-China consumer goods overseas, is set to file an initial public offering (IPO) in London this week, according to UK media reports.

Shein, founded by the publicity-shy Chinese entrepreneur Sky Xu Yangtian, will file a confidential prospectus for a listing on the London Stock Exchange, television broadcaster Sky News reported on Monday. The Financial Times also reported that Shein will file privately with regulators in the coming days.

While Shein, which competes with PDD Holdings’ Temu, has been gaining popularity in the West, the company stays largely under the radar in China. There is no record of any public speeches or interviews given by Xu.

According to its latest recruitment advertisements, Shein serves consumers in “more than 150 countries and regions” across the world. Its shopping site does not have a simplified Chinese version for mainland consumers.

Shein did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

The Singapore-headquartered company, which has signed Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley as financial advisers, aims to raise over 1 billion pounds (US$1.28 billion) from the IPO, which would value the company at around 50 billion pounds, according to Sky News.

That would make Shein the most valuable China-originated unicorn after ByteDance, owner of short-video platforms TikTok and Douyin.

Shein has moved its IPO destination to London from New York amid US-China tensions, executive chairman Donald Tang told the Financial Times in an interview last month. While the company in 2021 changed its domicile to Singapore from the eastern Chinese city of Nanjing, that was “not enough” to win over US lawmakers, Tang was quoted as saying.

It is not immediately clear whether an overseas IPO application by Shein would require the approval of mainland regulators, such as the Cyberspace Administration of China or the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC).

According to rules introduced last year, any company that wishes to list overseas must register their intention with the CSRC and obtain approval from their own industry regulator, if most of its employees are Chinese or based in China.

Shein runs a huge sourcing centre in the suburbs of Guangzhou, capital of southern Guangdong province, taking advantage of the vast manufacturing capacity in the Pearl River Delta region.

Local governments in China are pinning their hopes on Shein to help boost exports.

Guangzhou’s Baiyun district has been working to connect Shein with local clothing, leather and cosmetics exporters, according to a news report by Southern Metropolis Daily in March. A delegation from Sanshui district in neighbouring Dongguan city visited Shein and recommended cosmetics and home appliance businesses to open shops on Shein

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