Sogou’s parent company Sohu Inc announced Tencent’s proposal on Monday and said Sohu’s board of directors has not yet reviewed it or made a decision.
Sogou went public on the New York Stock Exchange in 2017 and raised $585 million. The delisting would occur because the sale would make Sogou a private and indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of Tencent. Tencent is already a major investor in Sogou, holding around 39% of Sogou’s total issued and outstanding shares.
Tencent, the world’s largest gaming company and owner of social messaging platform WeChat, has itself been listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange since 2004. Its shares rose 4.6% in intraday trading on Tuesday; Sogou’s shares surged a record 48% on Monday.
If Sohu approves the sale, Sogou would join a growing number of Chinese companies delisting from the U.S. or considering doing so as tensions between the two countries escalate and the U.S. increases scrutiny of U.S.-listed Chinese companies. Reuters reported on Tuesday that Nasdaq-listed Ctrip, China’s biggest online travel firm, is discussing a potential delisting in response to U.S.-China tensions and the pandemic-induced hit to its business. China’s online classifieds platform 58.com said in June it was delisting from the NYSE to go private in an $8.7 billion deal. Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation, China’s biggest chipmaker, delisted from the NYSE in June, blaming low trading volumes and the high cost of complying with U.S. reporting requirements and laws. SMIC listed on Shanghai’s Star market board on July 16 to become the biggest listing on China’s exchanges in a decade.
The trend of Chinese companies delisting from U.S. exchanges could cost U.S. investors, who would no longer have access to shares of those companies that collectively trade around $8 billion per day in the U.S., according to a China Renaissance report. The delistings may also discourage Chinese startups from going public on U.S. exchanges.