The Chinese artificial intelligence start-up SenseTime Group relaunched its $767 million Hong Kong IPO on December 27, 2021. It had withdrawn its listing after getting placed on a U.S. investment blacklist.
The shares were priced at the bottom of the company’s range at HK$3.85 (US$0.49), which gave the company a valuation of $16.4bn. The shares of SenseTime closed at HK$4.10 on Thursday, giving the company a market capitalization of $17.5 billion.
China continues to churn out huge fortunes and massive gains for venture capitalists despite increased tensions with the U.S. and Beijing’s crackdown on tech giants. A blacklisting by the U.S. does not restrict SenseTime’s operations. Still, its inability to raise capital and reduce trading liquidity in the future may be affected by the lack of U.S. investors.
Read More: U.S. sanction forces SenseTime to delay IPO
The U.S.Treasury Department designated SenseTime as one of the “Chinese military-industrial complex companies” on December 10 to develop a facial recognition program to identify ethnic Uyghurs. UN and human rights groups estimate a million people have been held in camps mainly for Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in China’s far-west region of Xinjiang over the last few years.
According to foreign lawmakers and parliaments, Uyghurs have been subjected to genocide since forced sterilizations and killed inside camps. The Chinese government denies these claims and says that the Uyghur population growth rate is above the national average.
As a result of its inclusion on the U.S. blacklist, SenseTime has denied allegations that it provided Beijing with facial recognition software used to oppress Uyghur Muslims in Western China. A spokesperson for the company previously said it “strongly opposed” the blacklist designation, and the allegations against it were unfounded.
Company founder Tang Xiao’ou, who holds a 20.8 percent stake in the company, has benefited from the IPO.